What Happens When Apple Removes an App You Love?

With iOS 17.4’s expansion allowing for a greater variety of downloadable applications on iPhones, questions have surfaced regarding the longevity and accessibility of apps removed from the App Store, sparked by the brief availability of a Game Boy emulator capable of playing titles like Pokémon Red.

For those who managed to download this emulator before its removal, concerns about whether the app remains usable are prevalent. Here’s what you need to know.

app store

Can You Keep Apps Removed from the App Store?

If you’ve already downloaded an app that Apple later removes from the App Store, the short answer is: yes, you can still use it. However, there are caveats to consider. While the app will remain on your device, it will no longer receive updates. This means that while you can continue using the app, any future iOS updates that require new app compatibility adjustments will not be accommodated, which could eventually render the app unusable.

Why Apps Get Removed and What You Can Do

Apps are typically removed from the App Store for not complying with Apple’s stringent app policies or if they pose security risks. However, sometimes apps are removed due to licensing issues or other legal considerations, as might be the case with emulators like the one for Game Boy.

For those who find an app appealing, the best strategy is to download it promptly before it potentially disappears from the store. Once removed, re-downloading the app becomes significantly more challenging. Unlike Android‘s APK files, iOS does not support direct app installations outside of the App Store without resorting to complex methods that could compromise device security.

The Role of European Union Law

Recent developments under European Union law have started to influence the types of apps available in the App Store, including emulators. These laws may encourage the presence of more diverse apps, though their stay might be short-lived if Apple decides to remove them later for policy violations.

Tips for iOS Users

  1. Download Promptly: If you discover an app that interests you, consider downloading it immediately. Once removed, there’s no guarantee it will be available again.
  2. Backup Your Apps: Regularly back up your device to ensure that even if an app is removed from the App Store, you have a saved version that can be restored to your device later.
  3. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on app updates and the reasons behind app removals from the store. This knowledge can help you understand whether an app you use might be at risk of removal.


While apps removed from the App Store remain accessible on your device, their functionality might be limited over time due to the lack of updates and compatibility with newer iOS versions. Being proactive in downloading and managing your apps can help ensure that you continue to enjoy them, even if they disappear from the App Store.