Google Play Store and Apple App Store logos on a smartphone

Have you ever tried to look for an app and realized it wasn’t there? Here are the reasons an app might disappear from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store.

Compatibility and Update Issues

One of the most common reasons why an app goes missing is simply because your device is no longer compatible with it.

If you’re using an older device with an outdated version of Android, iOS, or iPadOS, an app might go missing from the store or be uninstallable. The same is true if the app’s developer hasn’t updated it in a very long time. Logs on both the App and Play Stores document when the last update occurred.

If this is the case, there’s no other solution than to get a new device or look for a different app.

Apple or Google Remove It Entirely

The most common reason an app goes down is it breaks one or more of Apple or Google’s store rules. There are many reasons why Apple or Google might decide to remove an app from their official stores. Here are some of the most frequently cited ones:

  • Violation of content policy: Both companies have policies that block apps that contain inappropriate or harmful content, promote illegal services, trade banned goods, or put people in danger. Both also prohibit all sexual content, particularly nudity and pornography.
  • Intellectual property: Apps that infringe on the intellectual property of someone else might be taken down. This is especially true of games that use characters or settings from popular properties without their permission. For these apps to be removed, the original IP holder files a petition with Apple or Google.
  • MalwareApps that might endanger your device or personal information are also prohibited. Examples of particularly malicious behavior include saving your contacts, uploading your personal information online, or misrepresenting what the app does. In some cases, these apps might monitor your phone use and sell that data to advertisers.
  • Non-functionality: This might be the case if an app stops working entirely or doesn’t deliver its promised functionality.
  • Adware: This term describes software with highly obtrusive advertisements that nearly block out the core functionality of an app. Adware violates both Apple and Google’s advertising rules.
  • Regulation: At times, regulation or changes to a law might cause an app to be removed. For example, according to Reuters, Chinese regulators recently removed the game Plague Inc from the App Store in China.

RELATED: How to Avoid Malware on Android

The Developer Takes It Down

Flappy Bird Mobile Phone Game

Another common reason is the developer removes the app. Some developers do this if an app is old, poorly reviewed, or has been replaced by a better application. They might also remove an app if they believe it could cause them legal trouble, like copyright infringement.

In one instance, an app was removed because it was generating too much attention for its developer. In 2014, Dong Nguyen, creator of Flappy Bird, removed the game from both the App and Play Stores. He said he felt people were becoming dangerously addicted to it, and he wanted to step out of the media limelight.

It’s Region-Locked

Another reason you might not be able to find an app is it’s only available in certain regions.

This is especially true for radio, media streaming, games, and music apps. These are frequently region-locked because they’re not intended to be available for anyone outside the U.S. For example, the new streaming service Disney+ can’t be downloaded from the App or Play Store by anyone who isn’t in one of the countries in which it launched.

For those using Android devices, a potential workaround for this might be to download and install an APK file on your phone. However, the app might refuse to function outside of its region. For example, you might be unable to stream TV shows and movies that are geographically restricted to certain countries.

RELATED: How to Sideload Apps on Android

How to Find an App That’s Missing From the Store

If you’re using Android, getting an app that’s not in the App Store is relatively easy. Many websites keep extensive databases of the APK files of various apps and their versions. However, you should be careful which websites you trust. Some might offer APK files containing malware.

We trust and recommend APKMirror. Download the app’s APK file, and then install it on your device. If it’s compatible with your phone, you should be able to use it without problems.

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, and you’ve downloaded the app in the past, you can get it by going to your “Purchased” screen in the App Store.

Otherwise, it might be trickier. Apple devices don’t allow you to sideload apps on your phone out of the box. If you’re committed to adding an old app, you can load an app file by jailbreaking your phone. However, we don’t recommend this.

RELATED: How to Download Apps That are No Longer in Your Phone's App Store

Profile Photo for Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
Read Full Bio »