Apple’s iOS purchase-history purge disrespects users

“It’s no secret that there is a large amount of software on the iOS App Store that has been abandoned. Even some well-regarded titles, like GoodReader, have lain fallow for a while in a half-functional state after some Apple update or other made it unstable,” Mike Wuerthele writes for MacNN. “Games are generally the first to break on newer OSes, but will churn along fine on older hardware and software combinations. Recently, however, users are discovering that when a company retracts a piece of software from sale for whatever the reason, it is utterly removed from both the store and users’ purchase histories — making it impossible to re-download and re-acquire if not backed up on a computer.”

“This is a very, very bad thing,” Wuerthele writes. “A spokesperson for Apple confirmed to enthusiast site PocketGamer that ‘if [developers] remove their apps from the store, they cannot be re-downloaded until the app has been resubmitted to the App Store.'”

“We believe that the utter eradication of buggy titles under modern operating systems from the App Store is overly authoritarian, and completely unnecessary. Users can protect themselves by backing up their purchases diligently, but the whole point of Apple’s re-download policy is that buyers always have a ‘cloud’ backup that can be re-installed on demand — only that turns out not to be fully true,” Wuerthele writes. “Eliminating software from the iOS App Store because the developer pulled it for incompatibilities with newer devices or the current version of iOS doesn’t help anybody but the newest customers, and is a very self-interested move by Apple. So far, the same behavior doesn’t appear to extend to the Mac App Store — but we’re concerned that its just a matter of time until it does.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As always, back up everything. As Wuerthele suggests, Apple should add a new field for “acceptable OS version” to Xcode. That way users won’t be frustrated with software that doesn’t work on their device, but users with compatible devices will still be able to access and download older software.

18 Comments

    1. iMore already confirming this was a apparently a bug and old purchases – even those pulled – are returning to people’s lists.

      Non-story as I said. Just the press hunting for blood, they haven’t filled their -gate quota for this generation yet.

  1. Hmm. There are positives as well as negatives to Apple’s iOS App Store behavior. Having all 4,000 (one estimate) apps messed up by XcodeGhost (fake, malware warez version of Xcode) pulled from the iOS App Store is required.

    Then there are the grey area apps. I note that Apple yanked ‘Ephemeral+’ from the store this week. It was able to show where US drone strikes and resulting fatalities were made around the world. They yanked it after yanking Metadata+, a similar app. This stinks because #MyStupidGovernment has consistently disallowed mere US citizens from know what it’s government is doing abroad regarding military/war actions. 😛 The assumption: If we knew, we’d rebel or get all weepy or something. Apple says these apps were pulled due to “excessively crude or objectionable content”. Right…

    Then there’s dreadful crapware, such as anything ever posted by XHumans, my personally most hated crapware perpetrators at the iOS App Store from of a few years back. Being able to re-download their garbage (IMHO of course) is a very bad idea.

    1. I agree. Apple censoring hard news notifications is way over the line.

      Porn? Ok I understand. Obviously racists or hate based apps? Ok. But censoring serious topics is a terrible thing for them to be doing.

        1. Am I missing something? If you have only iOS devices does that work? I wasn’t aware AppleScript was available on iOS and that purchases are placed automatically in specific folders on the devices.

    1. Apple markets its iCloud as doing this automatically. Just as you have never read the fine print, nobody else does either. They assume it Just Works, like Apple software used to. It doesn’t. So yes, you are right, people need to buy a Mac with their iPhones and sync their data regularly to a location they understand. But that’s not what Apple sells people. Apple and all its retailers sell iPhone + iCloud subscriptions and tell people that they never have to back up anything ever again. You have to blame Apple for some of the confusion out there.

  2. Actually, it IS happening in the MacApp Store.
    I just upgraded to Yosemite a month ago, and the App Store is constantly pestering me to download iPhoto 9.6, but the app is “no longer available for download”.
    AND I cannot get rid of it in the App Store
    SO I just have to look at it forever.

    Johnboy

  3. You can back up to iTunes on a Mac or a PC, but Apple does a disservice to themselves and their customers by never clearly explaining their ecosystem of iTunes, iCloud, etc. It’s a great marketing meme that everything Apple “just works”, but it just isn’t so. As software goes, iTunes is very good at what it does, but it does do a lot, and a lot of it is not obvious. What online documentation there is leaves you feeling you’re only on a need-to-know basis.

    A lot of people’s frustration with iTunes is because of this unfortunate aspect of Apple’s seeming reluctance to offer what they do in their one-to-one training and in-store workshops in a, get ready for it, manual. I know. It just works. Except when it doesn’t.

    iTunes backups and file management are really great, but there are a LOT of options on a lot of screens and preferences and interaction with iCloud and eBooks and Photos and on and on, and yes, when you know how to do it, then, and only then, it just works!

    It’s time Apple solved this problem, why they haven’t is hard to say. I find most users puzzled and confused about how their devices all just work together, and are only using ten percent of what they could be doing if Apple only explained it better.

    Then there’s Apple Music…

      1. In a word, sort of. iCloud backups do not include the actual apps the way iTunes backups do. If you have to restore from iCloud, only the current App Store version of your app is available, which may no longer be compatible with your, say, iPhone 3G. An iTunes backup is an actual copy of the app on your device, so no issues when restoring. Hope that helps shed some light,

        Peace

        dmz

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