Even after they are removed from an app store, apps can remain on your phone or tablet

When you use smartphone and tablet apps, collecting antiques is more challenging, but not impossible. Google and Apple are restricting access to apps after too long without an update, but both companies are not being equally strict about it. Both companies allow workarounds for now. 

'Apple' announced April 29 that a piece of software will be considered neglected if it hasn't been updated for 'three years' and hasn't been downloaded at all or very seldomly over the last 12 months.'  

Those who meet both criteria will get a warning that their app might be removed from the App Store - and that amounts to being banned from the App Store since it is the only practical way to distribute an iPhone or iPad app. The developers have 90 days to ship an update to remove that threat. 

The new policy marks a retreat from an earlier policy Apple revealed to developers earlier this spring: an app that doesn't get updated two years without an update will be removed, and an update can only be released 30 days after the last update date.

Users who already have the app installed should be safe. Apple's policy reads: 'Your app will remain fully functional for current users.' This includes support for in-app purchases. Backups of old iPhones and iPads can be restored to a new phone or tablet to move apps over. The policy remains unpopular with many developers. 

'This is a reminder that Apple controls all distribution of iOS apps, which means that these rules, and all others, may leave developers and users without any choice,' wrote Brent Simmons, an iOS developer responsible for NetNewsWire and other applications. 

Apple declined to comment on the record but confirmed that apps no longer available in the App Store will transfer via Backup and Restore to new devices, except for those removed for being malware.

In Adam Engst's view, it makes no sense to keep apps on the App Store that crash out of the box, or are completely abandoned, he emailed the publisher of Tidbits, an Apple newsletter. In addition, he questioned whether the rule actually benefits users: Users can decide for themselves if old but functional apps are worthwhile.  

As Engst observed, 'It would appear to be better to hide the app from the App Store to prevent new downloads while making it available for existing users upgrading or transitioning in a way that won't allow them to copy from their old device.' 

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