Frasier and Sherlock Holmes have been removed from sale

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On a sad note, both our Frasier and Sherlock Holmes apps have been removed from the App Store. This time it’s not because of a copyright claim – hurra!

No, this time Apple have decided to remove these apps because of a new policy they’ve introduced earlier this year. In a nutshell it says if you don’t constantly submit updates to your apps, even if such updates are completely pointless, then we’ll remove such apps. Out with the old, in with the new. And now we know why there’s a new update to the Facebook and Twitter apps once a week…

On one hand the new policy is understandable: Apple want to avoid the shiny new polished App Store to be cluttered with outdated apps from half a decade ago. It makes sense. On the other hand it sends the message that they don’t really welcome hobby hackers like myself and would rather have big name publishers that can generate a ton of cash. Or alternatively those that generate a story on the front page. Like “the youngest app developer from China,9 yrs old” or “our oldest developer is 81 and she’s just published her first app”, that sort of thing. I’d love o ow what will happen to their apps in 5 years time, when those news items have become non-stories.

Is there something I could have done? Yes sure, and believe me, I’ve tried. Apple gave me 30 days notice before pulling my apps. It his time I had the chance to submit an update. I had lost touch with Xcode and the developer tools due to my illness, but I felt ready to take on the challenge with the deadline. 

Turns out that I can no longer maintain legacy code for older platforms like, iOS 5: the latest version of Xcode (which is necessary to submit apps to the App Store) no longer supports versions prior to iOS 8. The implication of this is that several classes have been retired or updated, so that much of the code as well as the approach to make an app work need to be re-written to be compliant with iOS 8 or higher. As a result, I spent two weeks updating the Frasier app, only to find out that it is so complex to do (even for a simple app like Frasier) that the time would be better lent re-writing the whole app from scratch. The task of updating would be even bigger for more complex apps like Sherlock Holmes or The Belgian Detective Guide. 

The long and short of it is: I didn’t get it done in time, and the apps were removed from sale. 

I still have the chance to updated them, but I’m not sure if I will find the energy to do this. Should I perhaps focus on new ideas instead, until they too will be removed from the store? Or should I find a different hobby altogether, one where you’re not kicked in the teeth once every year? 

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