The Purge: Apple App Store Style

The recently announced coming cleanup of the Apple App Store could see literally hundreds of thousands of apps purged from the ranks.

Apple has promised to remove old, outdated apps in the store, with the compliance onus being on the apps to shape up or get booted. This move comes in response to recent data that indicates that an ever-increasing number of abandoned “zombie” apps are haunting the App Store. Apple has not specified what exactly the criteria for app removal will be past the admonition that it will remove apps that “no longer function as intended” or no longer “follow current review guidelines.” Lack of compatibility updates is also a red flag.

The problem is Apple has not defined what a “long time” between review updates means, and a cursory survey of developer data indicates that there is a wide variety of “normal” times for software updates.

On the other hand, abandoned ghost apps are an issue. There are 2.1 million active apps in the Apple Store. According to some figures, 50 percent of all apps have been abandoned by their developers since May of last year. A quarter of all apps have been updated since Nov. 2013, and only 20 percent of apps have been updated in the last three months.

That means, coming soon, the App Store might be looking a lot smaller depending on how stringent Apple is on those updates.

Apple will start giving the world a peak at which apps have been targeted for removal, as it has announced the formal review and purge will begin today as Apple is introducing the world to the new iPhone 7.

The purge, however, will be one of a few big changes coming soon to the App Store. The latest instantiation will also see the addition of search ads, expanded subscription support with a different revenue-sharing model for developers and a more curated feel to the store with customer recommendations being provided for users based on prior preferences.

Apple is also changing how developers can title their apps, in an attempt to cut down on name-hacking plays meant to boost App Store SEO. This will mostly mean, going forward, that app names can only be 50 characters.


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