As Apple promised in September, it started sending out emails to developers warning that their apps would be removed from sale on the App Store unless updated. I received two such emails. I expected more.
It seems the criteria for selection had more (all?) to do with whether an app had seen any downloads recently than anything else, despite the stated reason being “We noticed that your app has not been updated in a significant amount of time.” which was also true.
The two apps I was notified about, WordHawk and PokerPartner, haven’t seen a download in well over a year, probably two. Another app, PokerPartner Lite, which was free to download also has not seen any downloads in a similar amount of time, but I did not receive an email about it. Funny thing is that the Lite version is pretty much identical to the non-Lite version, except it has ads (via the now defunct iAd platform) and slightly less functionality. In other words, its equally old and outdated. One wonders exactly what Apple’s algorithm is to select apps, or maybe they capped the emails at 2 per developer. We may never know.
The emails motivated me to do some updates, but not for the aforementioned apps. Instead, I focused my efforts on my “best sellers” to update them finally for iOS10 compatibility. Two of them — FilterFresh and Flashcards! — were updated this past week. An update to OuttaMyWay! is currently in beta test.
So what happened with the other apps? After the Flashcards! update, I decided to take a look at WordHawk. In case you don’t know, it’s a word game based around the rules of Boggle. It was my first app in 2009. It had been called WordWinder originally, but that’s another story. Looking at the project it was clear that a complete re-write was in order. I mean, it didn’t even use storyboards! I decided not to update it. Not because it would have been a lot of work, and not because it wouldn’t have been a little fun. The real reason was that it wasn’t worth my time. No one has downloaded it in months! Updating it would not change that.
I finally made the decision that I am sure many developers are making or have made. I took WordHawk, PokerPartner, and PokerPartner Lite off the App Store. It’s kind of a watershed moment in my iOS career in that these were my first apps. But at the same time it underscores how hard it is to be any kind of indie developer, especially one like me who has a day job and works on his own stuff nights and weekends. Time is precious and there isn’t enough of it to write the apps and promote them. Some cords had to be cut, and these apps were at the end of them.
PokerPartner could come back in some form someday. But for now I’m focused on my other apps, which are still for sale and updated, and whatever other great ideas manifest themselves from the ether.