Most apps I use are updated on a regular basis. That's great, since Apple's annual update cycle for iOS adds a lot of features and enhancements, and it's nice to know that my investment in an app is being protected. But what happens when you buy an app, grow to love it, and the developer seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth?
That's the situation I have with a game app I purchased eons ago -- I think it was back in 2011 or 2012 -- called Astraware Word Games. It's still on the App Store for $2.99, and it’s been a favorite for years. There are five different word games that vary in difficulty, most against a clock, and your score on daily games is compared to others who play the game.
That last point is why I love this game despite some huge problems. I play the Spellmaster game in Astraware Word Games almost every day, in which you select the correct spelling for a word from four choices as quickly as possible in order to get the best score. Since I often get that top score, I'm addicted to the game. End of story.
But the developer has chosen to ignore this game. The last update was August 20, 2012 -- over three years ago. We all know how many changes have been made to iOS over that time, and the app is now suffering as a result. What do I mean by suffering? Here, watch as I try to launch Astraware Word Games on my iPad Air 2:
Usually, after 10-12 tries and killing the app altogether once or twice, I can actually get in and play it without it crashing... if I'm lucky. Some days I get so frustrated that I just say "the hell with it" and go do something else, which is irritating since we all need a break from doing work.
Now, I'm picking on Astraware, which has been around since the early days of the mobile age. Seriously, the company was writing apps for the Palm platform in the 1990s, and was actually founded way back in 1993 writing apps for the Atari ST. I don't know why the company has chosen to ignore this app. Perhaps it's just a case of limited resources -- maybe founder Howard Tomlinson and a few other old-timers are the only ones around the company anymore -- and the company is looking at an app that "still runs", despite the fact that it barely runs under iOS 8 and 9, so they don't throw any money at it. Other Astraware titles have been updated in 2015, while some are also languishing in update hell.
My question is this - why keep an app on the market when it barely runs on modern devices? I've seen this with some other apps that start off with a bang, then slowly deteriorate as the developer decides it's not worth the time or effort to keep updating the app.
I'd love to see Apple implement a rule: if you don't update your app on at least an annual basis to be compliant with new updates and run smoothly under new OS versions, it gets booted from the App Store. I feel sorry for the people who read the 4 star reviews for Astraware Word Games and get enticed by the description, buy the app, and then find it's crashing all the time.
Seriously, if you're not going to update an app, either tell potential buyers what they're likely in for -- like repeated crashes -- or just pull the app from the App Store.
Do you have a favorite app that have been ignored by its developer and suffering from issues like this? Let us know in the comments.