Apps in Maintenance Mode

I’m curious what the MPU opinion is on apps that are still for sale, but have slipped into what I think of as maintenance mode, meaning that the developers aren’t actively working on the apps anymore, but they’re happy to do occasional updates to keep them running on the current OS.

For example:

You can still buy each of the apps above, but I can’t imagine I’d recommend any of them. Is it enough for the apps to be “feature complete”, but not have any new features planned by the developers? Or, do you see the lack of updates as a sign of stability and that the app is simply finished?

Who says, that an app has to be further developed over the time!?
If those Apps have a certain purpose, and are doing what they are intended for, I am totally fine if the developer “just” keep the App working with the latest OS.
It is a hugh problem for a lot of apps, that the developers become lost within the large amount of different new features, and at the same time a lack of maintenance towards their original intended features for the App.
If the App is fulfilling its purpose, and Maintained as to meet the requirements of the latest OS, from my side it is totally OK, to still sell them on the AppStore.

A complete different picture comes up, of course, with Apps still sold on the App store, that became Abandoned by their developers, (partly) not working anymore with current OS, last updated years ago (and sometime only from Apple itself) and in a lot of cases even have no information about the use of the Data obtained by the user.
If you roam around the Appstore, there seems to be a lot of Apps, fitting in the last described category, who became abandoned just after Apple required the Developer to submit Informations about the Data-Usage with the next Update.
So I always trying to find (which is not an easygoing with the hundreds of Apps I got over the last decade) and delete those Apps on my devices, to protect my data.

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Time has certainly passed by for Yojimbo and VoodooPad.

I’m surprised to see LaunchBar on your list. I would think that people for whom LaunchBar “works” would continue to be devoted to it. However, I’ve personally moved on to Alfred. And Raycast seems to be generating some excitement in this space.

I reached out to support and they told me that only maintenance updates would be released and no new features were planned.

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So they’re supported. Just not actively developed for improvement.

I think that the test is when new OSs are released.


I think it is not only fine, but positively a good thing for a dev to have a finishing line for app features. This keeps apps simple (enough) to use. More features lead to larger menus and often make it more cumbersome to do what an app was originally designed for. In addition, it allows to charge only once instead of a subscription. Continuous dev requires somewhat continuous revenue.

That said, I think completed apps should be open about being in maintenance mode and they should not charge a subscription. Also, I would hope for apps to include maintaining an up-to-date interface (i.e. keeping up with Apple‘s changes to the look of things).


I agree, unless there is some obvious cost to the Dev, e.g. provision of ongoing content, hosting costs…


True! I was more thinking about apps that do things locally rather than services. But 100% agreed because it is continuous effort beyond maintenance.

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Actually a good red flag to avoid dodgy apps. :sweat_smile:.

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I don’t mind them unless I think an unsupported OS update might unexpectedly break something I’ll need to do frequently.

I don’t have any problem with them charging if they’re doing something I need/value. Plus, sometimes the benefit of paying for a legacy app is that you get the good feeling of supporting development of a new app from a developer you like.

As long as it keeps running with new OSes I see no reason to complain or not recommend. Stability is a good thing. “Improvements” aren’t necessarily needed and can often break things. One thing I learned is never to “upgrade” software in the middle of a project.


For me, it simply depends on whether something else is available that does the job better. I still use LaunchBar. Every few years I switch to Aflred for a few months, and had a several month flirtation with Raycast earlier this year, but I keep coming back to LaunchBar, as it works better with how my mind works (and Raycast, for all its strong points, misses out on a few basics, such as right-arrow to show recents, at least as of the last time I used it).

For now, LaunchBar has received updates to support important new OS features, like support for launching shortcuts, but if the day ever comes where it is missing something I want/need, or the maintenance ends, that is when I’d switch with a tear in my eye.

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The Big Three – LaunchBar, Alfred, and Raycast – work and feel quite differently to me. My guess is all three still have an audience. And that is a good thing.


When I think about the apps I use most regularly - Ulysses, EagleFiler, Zotero, iThoughtsX, Apple Notes, Apple Mail, Apple Reminders, Apple Calendar…

…I can’t say I can think of many new features that I have a burning need for them to implement. So long as they continue to support the OS, I’ll be happy. Continually adding features can clutter the interface and reduce usability (cough Word cough). Of course The Next Greatest Thing may appear and offer a whole new approach.

Apps like TaskPaper have been declared feature complete, and part of the joy is their simplicity. Continually adding new features would be counter productive.


This is a very interesting conversation, philosophical almost! When is an app done? I know that Apple keeps adding new features to Numbers and Pages, but they already do everything I need out of them. I often look at the new features list and shrug, thinking maybe I’ll use them someday, but probably not.

On the other side of things, the Mail app keeps adding new features (slowly), and I often use them right away and my email workflow has changed over the years as new features get added to Mail (left and right swipes for example).

So, not an easy question to answer. You’d think email is simple enough to not need any more features, but iOS 16 added scheduling emails and now I’m using that more and more. Numbers is much more complicated and I don’t care about most of the features it has already. When more are added, I don’t use them. So how to strike the right balance?

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There was a blog post somewhere that talked about how the App Store treats apps that are “Done". Long story short, the dev must update the app at least once every three years or it will be pulled from the App Store, even though he was still seeing a steady trickle of new downloads. In this case the dev merely incremented the version number, but even that had consequences because (1) the tool set had changed drastically and (2) he was using some third party libraries that hadn’t been updated. Personally I think there are many other apps that should have been pulled first.

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If I were an app dev, and intended to support the app, I would just say I consider it feature-complete, and will continue to release maintenance updates for the foreseeable future. (If that was my intention.) Rather than let rumors of it becoming abandonware spread.

I sort of did this on my open source project. In 2014 I said, it may be 2020 before I can work on this again. I was off by 2 years. People still use it.

Then we have the opposite case of apps that are supposedly in development (you know the one that comes to mind), but haven’t shown much progress in years, remain in alpha/beta, etc.

One of the good things about open source projects hosted on GitHub/GitLab, et al. is being able to see the last time a commit was made [^1].

[^1]: A “commit” is checking in changes to files, thus showing active development.