While there has been much dismay at developers permanently removing games from the App Store, Apple have today announced that they are to start taking the issue into their own hands. In an email to developers, Apple have stated that applications that ‘no longer function as intended’, have not been supported with compatibility updates, or ones that do not ‘follow current review guidelines’, are at risk of being removed from the App Store completely. Furthermore, Apple are also imposing a restriction in the length of an app’s title, to prevent overly long names in an attempt to influence search results. They have stated that names must now be no longer than 50 characters, or they will not be approved to be put on sale. Apple explain these new restrictions will be put in place from September 7th (the same day as their incoming media event), and justify such changes by emphasising their commitment to ‘quality’ applications, and their desire for it to be easier for ‘customers to find great apps that fit their needs’.
Whoa. This is huge. Apple reviewing old apps for quality + encouraging shorter app names. pic.twitter.com/S7C10yCOBC
— Jake Marsh (@jakemarsh) September 1, 2016
While the naming restrictions will certainly have their own repercussions, the attempt at cleaning up ‘abandoned’ applications is far more concerning for the iOS gaming community as a whole. On one hand, Apple’s reasoning is understandable – purchasing an application that has not been supported for newer versions of iOS is not desirable by any means. However, the removal of games that ‘no longer function as intended’ or that don’t ‘follow current review guidelines’ is more troublesome – this could lead to the sudden disappearance of classic older games that still run perfectly fine even on newer devices, but haven’t been updated in a few years. Furthermore, while Apple have outlined an ‘ongoing process’ in evaluating apps, notifying the owners and removing them afterwards, it’s still not clear whether developers will have any way to respond to these inquisitions, or if apps will disappear from the App Store overnight.
These changes to Apple’s evaluation process do conveniently coincide with the impending iOS 10 public release, as well as Apple’s introduction of ‘Search Ads’ that allow developers to pay to have their applications prominent in search results, so it’s easy to be cynical about what their intentions are in making these alterations. The relative ambiguity to the criteria that is stated for removal of an application raises the question as to where the line is drawn in terms of when an app is declared ‘abandoned’. Either way, it will be interesting to see how these new terms affect the App Store, and whether they can have a long-term positive impact in making it a more accessible ecosystem for users.
[via The Verge]