The two members of our favorite mobile duopoly, Google and Apple, recently announced plans to eliminate outdated apps from their respective app stores. Last month, the two companies decided that any app that hadn’t been updated for two years would be taken down. At the beginning of April, Google announced a two-year cutoff plan that would take effect in November, and later that month Apple began email developers, giving them 30 days notice to update or remove. It’s hard to know what the elimination of two-year-old apps will look like, so how many apps are we talking about exactly?
CNET has data from analyst firm Pixalate, which says the two-year shutdown would remove 869,000 apps from Google Play and around 650,000 from the App Store. That’s about a third of each store’s current total app selection. These numbers would take 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.
This figure from Google is an estimate since Google has officially stated that the cut-off point is two years. Apple has not publicly specified an endpoint. The company only personally emailed the developers saying it was removing apps that “have not been updated for a long time”, but some developers set that date at two years.
Both app store owners have a strong argument for doing so: older apps are lower quality and more prone to exploits. A lot developers say that such an approach will lead to collateral damage. Not all two-year-old apps are broken. Not every app in the world is a live service that will be updated forever, and a template like this doesn’t work for a free project. Android users will still have sideloading and alternate app stores, but Apple users will lose access to purged apps.