Truly the worst of all timelines.

The Appocalypse is coming: Will your favorite apps survive?

iOS •

Here’s a “fun” game to play if you’ve updated to iOS 10.3: Go to Settings > General > About > Applications and take a look at the list. These are the apps you have on your phone right now that won’t work at all once Apple removes compatibility for 32-bit apps in a future iOS version.

Here’s my list:

Dead apps walking.

Almost all of these are real bummers to me in some way, but I’ve got to say that Honeycomb Hotel is personally the worst potential loss. I think there’s some hope for an update still, but most of the other apps on my list probably won’t be getting one, for a variety of reasons. TouchArcade and AppShopper, for instance, haven’t been able to release updates for years, thanks to a rules change that banned apps that watch the App Store for price changes. Flappy Bird was infamously pulled from the App Store by its developer at the height of its popularity over concerns that it was too addictive. Perhaps the saddest story behind an app on this list is I Am Level. Stewart Hogarth, the developer of the excellent pinball exploration-platformer hybrid, tragically passed away in 2015.

My heart skipped a beat the other day when I checked my list for the first time and saw 868-HACK. Luckily, Michael Brough gave it an update on Tuesday that adds 64-bit compatibility and also tweaks the balance a bit. In his blog post for the update, he opens with a mini-rant against the continued inconveniences that Apple is putting developers through to keep their apps available on the App Store. Luckily for us, he’s going to soldier through and try to get his other apps up-to-date, too.

This impending 64-bit requirement once again hammers home the need for software preservation and exposes a major downside to Apple’s “walled garden” approach to iOS. Frivolous as it may seem, Flappy Bird is a historically important game that will soon become (even more, considering that you can’t even download it anymore) unplayable, at least on iOS. And even games that aren’t necessarily “important” deserve to be preserved! Projects like the Video Game History Foundation, The Internet Archive, and byuu’s work give me some hope for the future, but between the 64-bit requirement and the yearly developer fee required to keep even free apps on the App Store, it seems like Apple sees apps as disposable. I’ve been paranoid enough to keep backups of nearly every app I’ve downloaded and my old 5s on an older firmware, so I’ll still be able to use these apps in some form, but it’s a shame that that looks to be the only way.

What does your list look like? Feel free to speculate/mourn in the forum thread.

Update 4/10/2017:

Everett Kaser, the developer of Honeycomb Hotel, let me know today that he’ll be working on updates over the next couple of months. Rejoice! We’ll be keeping an eye out for news on the apps you’ve listed in the forums as well.

Notable Replies

  1. Most of the ones on my list aren't surprises. Samurai hasn't been updated in forever. I'd be sad to lose it, but not shocked. Same story with Stone Age.

    Trainyard was one of the first games to really get me hooked on iOS apps, so that's a bummer.

    The lone shocker in the bunch: Lords of Waterdeep. I don't play it often--and maybe nobody does, which is why it hasn't been updated--but I do really enjoy the game.

  2. Argh! I knew it was coming but still ARGH!

    Definetly staing at can bugger of with their policy....

    censored red hot fuming rage

  3. Here's some good news: Everett Kaser told me today that Honeycomb Hotel and his other apps should be updated in the next couple of months.

  4. I would like this post twice if I could.

  5. This situation, plus a lot of my older games just falling by the wayside, is making me be very discerning about what I buy digitally. Books, no problem for the most part, same for comics from comixology. Steam has some staying power so I don't mind buying games there. But ios/android? Each major update of iOS is bringing an apocalypse similar to WinXP to Vista, or Vista to 7, etc. Stuff I've paid for, just cast aside and no real concern. Square/Enix has been one of the biggest disappointments on the app store. 20.00 games and no updates for years. Hadn't been able to play Final Fantasy Tactics for a long time, until a surprise update hit sometime last year... and even then it was hit or miss. 20.00 or 2.00, if I pay money for it, I expect it to function for years (5+).

    It's even worse if the game has some sort of online component or cash store to buy into the game's currency. I don't care how much I like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, or the Fate series. If the dev can just arbitrarily turn the app off because they don't want to maintain it anymore, I'm unlikely to being supporting it.

    Sorry...I think I've been saving up this rant over app stores, oses, and money for some time. I hope it makes sense.

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