Can’t say it’s a huge loss, but it looks like Apple is finally going to starting removing apps whose sole purpose is to offer emoji, the emoticon characters popular with the younger text messaging crowd. Some developers are reporting that their emoticon-enabling apps are now being kicked out of the App Store, with Apple citing native support for emoji as the reason for the app’s removal.
One developer forwarded us the following email, which explains Apple’s position on the matter:
We are writing to let you know your app, [redacted], has been removed from the App Store because it is no longer needed to unlock Emoji.
Since iOS 6 now provides Emoji support to all users, your app is no longer in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines
2.12 Apps that are not very useful, are simply web sites bundled as apps, or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected
If you have questions about the removal of your application, please contact App Review at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the App ID and the name of your application in your email.
Thank you and best regards,
That’s an interesting letter, considering that Apple actually introduced expanded native support for emoji in iOS 5, not iOS 6. The interpretation, perhaps, is that enough of Apple’s install base has upgraded to a supported operating system that the impact these app removals will have on users is negligible. (On iOS 4.3 or earlier, emoji is only available on Japanese iPhone devices. It’s a small subset of users.)
That being said, it’s hard to tell if Apple is being choosy about which emoji-serving apps are getting the boot, because a quick App Store search for “emoji” currently returns over 1,000 results, both free and paid. It could be that the app removals just take time. The above developer’s app is still available, for example. In addition, MacRumors discovered several other developers have recently tweeted about this, apparently having received similar notices from Apple. That means more emoji app removals could still be underway.