David Smith Argues The Case That Apple Should Remove 'Abandoned' Apps From Sale

22 March 2013

David Smith:

Apple recently announced that they will begin requiring all new apps and app updates to support retina displays and include support for the iPhone 5. I’m really happy about this move. It forces developers to update their apps to look good on the modern crop of devices. This will improve the overall experience of customers in the App Store.

I do, however, wish that Apple would go farther with this and rather than just preventing further updates to old apps actually remove them from sale. On May 1st, when this policy goes into effect, it will have been 222 days since the iPhone 5 was introduced. Any app that hasn’t yet been updated to support its form factor starts to enter into the territory of abandonment. Indeed after that date they will be in a state of policy enforced abandonment.

Using iPhone 5 support as a heuristic to identify abandonment is a great idea1. Alas, in an environment where app stores are graded based on the number of apps they contain, Apple may be resistant to remove the stale apps completely, even though this is probably the action that is most beneficial to users.

At minimum, Apple should tweak the iTunes search algorithm to deprioritise the abandonware in the rankings.

1 As Smith says in the piece, it is an absolute fixed requirement — a black or white filter — which prevents disputes.