As a response to recent coverage of software being purged from the App Store, Apple is sharing its criteria for how it chooses to remove abandoned apps. The company is also reiterating that the practice is not new but instead part of an initiative that started six years ago. Developers will also have more time to comply after being notified.

Abandoned apps

The effort started in September 2016 as part of a greater initiative to revitalize the App Store with daily editorial and clearer policy decisions. The company said it would pull software that had been abandoned by developers or just no longer worked. Removing software made years ago that doesn’t work when downloaded by customers on new hardware makes sense, but it hasn’t always been clear that’s what happens. Nothing stops Apple from pulling apps that still work but just aren’t maintained.


Six years later after hitting reset on dev relations, Apple is still learning how to improve its relationship with developers. Part of that effort is material in publishing its criteria for how it chooses to remove apps that it considers abandoned.

As part of the App Store Improvements process, developers of apps that have not been updated within the last three years and fail to meet a minimal download threshold — meaning the app has not been downloaded at all or extremely few times during a rolling 12 month period — receive an email notifying them that their app has been identified for possible removal from the App Store.

Emphasizing that the program has been ongoing for years as standard App Store maintenance, Apple shares that it has removed nearly 2.8 million apps and counting for meeting this criteria.

Longer appeal time

One thing that’s new, however, is how long Apple now gives developers to respond to abandoned app notices. When Apple notifies a developer that an app appears to be abandoned and is subject to removal, the company is now giving developers 90 days to update their app and avoid removal. Prior to this change, developers had 30 days to comply.

Read more about the policy on Apple’s developer site. Apple says it has revised its page detailing the practice as well for clarity.

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About the Author


Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created