The apps that got away
Apple sells thousands of iOS on its App Store, but sometimes an app is pulled from the store’s virtual shelves. These pulled apps may have been in violation of Apple’s app guidelines but somehow got through the approval process, or the developer decided to pull the plug. But sometimes a pulled app is a really useful app that you wished you downloaded before it disappeared—because once you’ve downloaded it, it’s yours to use and keep.
Here are five iOS apps that are no longer available but are worth having. If you have one of these apps, consider yourself lucky. If you have a favorite app that’s no longer available, let us know about it in the comments below.
The most recent member to join the pulled apps list, Vidyo appeared on the App Store last Wednesday for $5 and was pulled on Thursday.
Vidyo performed a function that many (in the tech media, at least) can use: It recorded the activity on your iOS device’s screen. This is handy for, say, making video tutorials. There are other ways to record your iOS device’s screen, but they involve connecting the device to your Mac and using QuickTime, or some other recording device. Vidyo worked directly on you iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
Apple pulled the app because the company doesn’t allow for apps with such screen recording capabilities. Why it ended up in the App Store in the first place is a question only Apple can answer (and probably won’t).
Apple won’t let you remove any of it stock iOS apps. So if you’re like me and you prefer a third-party app over, say, Apple’s Podcasts app or Weather app, you probably created a folder, named it something spiteful (“Junk” or something similar; I actually use an apple emoji), and then stashed the app in there.
HiddenApps was a free app that let you hide those apps, as well as disable iAds and access the iPhone’s Field Test mode. The app also had the ability to reinstall any Apple apps. HiddenApps wasn’t a permanent fix, however; when you rebooted your iPhone, the Apple apps reappeared.
There’s currently an unofficial way to remove Apple stock apps in iOS 9.2, but like with the HiddenApps app, the Apple apps reappear when you reboot your iPhone. Chances are, Apple will “fix” this method in an upcoming iOS update.
Awesome Baby Names
On the surface, you can see how Awesome Baby Names got through the Apple approval process. It’s essentially a database of names, no big whoop. But the developer used the database as a front for the app’s real purpose as a Game Boy Advance emulator.
To access the emulator, all you had to do was push a series of buttons in the correct sequence. But in order to play any games, you had to install ROM files to you iOS device, which wasn’t that difficult to do using a software utility.
This wasn’t the only time a game emulator appeared on the App Store and then later pulled. There was also Gridlee and iMAME.
When Apple released iOS 9, the company allowed for what it calls “Content Blocking Safari Extensions.” You and I call them ad blockers.
Peace, an ad blocker by Marco Arment, quickly rose to the top of the App Store’s best sellers’ charts. But then Arment pulled Peace from the App Store because he didn’t feel like it was the proper solution to the problem of intrusive ads on web content.
There are other ad blockers available, and Arment even directs users towards two competing apps. But Arment has a reputation for making good apps, so it wasn’t surprising that Peace was a top seller. A developer withdrawing a best-selling app isn’t unprecedented, though…
Flappy Bird isn’t a good game. This side-scroller where you control a bird that flies between pipes is hard to control, seems impossible to master, and rips off its graphics from other games. But in 2013 the game became very popular and by the end of the year was the top-downloaded free game on the App Store.
Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen couldn’t handle the success, however, and he withdrew Flappy Bird from the App Store. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Nguyen said he felt “relief” after pulling Flappy Bird.
Since then, Nguyen has developed new games, including the recently released Swing Copters 2, which is just as maddening as Flappy Bird. Nguyen has said numerous times that Flappy Bird may make a return someday. While there are hundreds of Flappy Bird-like games in the App Store, there’s nothing like owning the original, especially considering the story behind the game.