Both members of our favorite mobile duopoly, Google and Apple, recently announced plans to remove outdated apps from their respective app stores. Last month, both companies decided that any app that hadn’t been updated in two years would be removed. In early April, Google announced a two-year shutdown plan that would kick off in November, and later in the month Apple began emailing developers, giving 30 days’ notice to update or be removed. It’s hard to know what culling two-year-old apps will look like, so exactly how many apps are we talking about?
CNET has data from the analyst firm Pixalate, which says the two-year close would remove 869,000 apps from Google Play and about 650,000 from the App Store. That’s about a third of any store’s current total app selection. Those numbers would change Google Play from 2.6 million apps to 1.7 million apps and the App Store from 1.95 million apps to 1.3 million.
That Google number is an estimate, as Google officially said the cutoff is two years. Apple has not publicly specified a cutoff point. The company has only personally emailed developers that it is removing apps that “have not been updated in a significant amount of time,” but some developers have pinned this date down as two years.
Both app store owners have a solid argument for doing this: old apps are of lower quality and more prone to exploits. Loads of developers say that an approach like this will result in collateral damage. Not every two-year-old app is broken. Not every app in the world is a live service that will be updated forever, and such a model will not work for a free project. Android users always have sideloading and alternative app stores, but Apple users lose access to the uninstalled apps.