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Stack Exchange developed 2 mobile apps: Stack Exchange app and Stack Overflow app.

The Stack Overflow app has been delisted for a while from the respective store:

However, just recently, the Stack Exchange Android app also disappeared from the Play Store, while the iOS version is still there on App Store.

Some findings:


P.S. asking the question for animuson:

Do you know if this was asked about on Meta anywhere? It was not intentional for [the Stack Exchange app] to disappear, so if there's a question about why it disappeared it'd be nice to get a status-review on that so we can look into it more. [...] The Stack Overflow app was a separate app. That one should be gone from the stores. The Stack Exchange app is not maintained but was supposed to still stick around.

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    It was about time they disappeared, they were no longer maintained. Every so often a confused new user asks a question about it, I'd be glad if they didn't reinstate that broken piece of software. – Mast Aug 18 '20 at 4:45
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    It is worth noting that when Kasra left the company, SE lost access to the accounts under which the apps were published, and when the Stack Overflow app was taken down, they decided not to go through the (supposedly) onerous process to recover access to their account since there wasn't any point in doing so (they weren't going to republish that app). – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 18 '20 at 5:08
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    Wild guess: disappointed users flagged/reported the app, SE did not respond to Google attempts to contact them, and as result it was removed. But... can't really know. :/ – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Aug 18 '20 at 5:15
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    A distinct non-answer: you should have asked "why took it that long" instead? Software that isn't maintained any more is always prone to turn into a security risk. When you know that your product is dead, then kill it for good, instead of keeping it around on some app stores. Those places aren't supposed to be graveyards for half dead zombies. – GhostCat Aug 18 '20 at 6:13
  • @GhostCat Well, the comment from animuson quoted in the question belies that question; as they said, the app wasn't supposed to be removed. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 18 '20 at 6:41
  • If it wasn't to be maintained at all, eventual removal was bound to happen. I used to use it, but found the web version more feature-rich anyway. I'm sure there'll be a few upset people but in 6-12 months noone will likely care. – Robotnik Aug 18 '20 at 7:02
  • @SonictheMaskedWerehog And I am saying that such an approach "dont fix it any more, but keep it available" is a bad idea. – GhostCat Aug 18 '20 at 8:08
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    @Robotnik The primary use case of the app is phone notifications. I usually don't use the app at all, but just have it installed for the sake of notifications. That's why they're still keeping the app up, even though it's not supported. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 18 '20 at 8:10
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    Good or bad, the app was at least a convenient way to access the platforms on mobile devices. Isn't there a way to get an official answer from Stack Exchange rather than making guesses? :P I'll go the APK way though for as long as it still works. – singhnsk Aug 27 '20 at 20:31
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    Commenting just to acknowledge this wasn't forgotten, and is in the CM backlog to figure out what happened here. – JNat Oct 8 '20 at 14:19
  • @JNat see answer by Chris, it most likely explain what happened. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Nov 9 '20 at 12:08
  • @SonictheK-DayHedgehog - notifications in the app have been broken since Android 10, I was literally just coming here to post something asking if there were any plans to fix that, when I learned that the app is no longer in the Play Store at all.... – patbarron Nov 16 '20 at 19:35
  • @patbarron Seems like an issue with your device. I'm running Android 11 and notifications still work for me – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Nov 16 '20 at 20:54
  • Interesting.. . I'm using Android 11 on an unlocked Pixel 3a, which I'd hope would work correctly... Well, in case my APN registration got messed up somehow, I've logged out, cleared my app data, and logged back in. Maybe that will get my notifications to work again... I guess I just sort of assumed that the notifications got lost in the APN to FCM transition somehow. – patbarron Nov 17 '20 at 13:59
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    Thanks for the tip, @MetaAndrewT. — the person who was in charge of the app doesn't work here any more, though, which is why it's a bit more complicated, but that's where we were starting to look late last year before the break, yup. – JNat Jan 11 at 11:06
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Similar to what happened with the Stack Overflow app on iOS, we didn’t deliberately de-list the Stack Exchange app from the Play Store. As far as we understand, it was taken down by Google due to reported bugs that went unresolved. In previous posts we said we’re no longer maintaining the apps and are instead investing in responsive design to support smaller screens natively. However, we were OK with letting the mobile apps remain listed for those using them as our mobile strategy was not defined. Currently, the only remaining app available is the Stack Exchange app in the App Store.

At this time I can confirm that we do not plan to invest in building native mobile apps. As such, we’ve decided to officially de-list the Stack Exchange iOS app from the App Store as well. Allowing it to linger has caused confusion for users, overhead for us to investigate each time it comes up, and an overall bad experience for having something out there that we’re not maintaining.

We understand that push notifications were one of the primary features that users enjoyed with the mobile apps. As we beef up responsive design, we will be exploring web push notifications as well. There’s no timeline for this yet but it is something that’s on our radar that we’d like to get to.

Lastly, we will continue to maintain the mobile API routes that are still running server side as we have been doing because the maintenance is low and it’ll keep the app running for those who have already installed it. It should be noted however that services specific to the app will have low maintenance priority, components may be decommissioned as the need arises, and issues with the general network API will continue to have their normal maintenance priority.

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You said that AppBrain stated that it was delisted on July 28, 2020 and there was no Play Store policy deadlines around that time which is not quite true.

Google have said that 64-bit support must be available by August 1, 2020 if the app uses a Corona Labs SDK or Adobe AIR software and the AIR SDK

The Play Store policy deadlines state:

As of August 1, 2019, apps and games published on Google Play must support 64-bit ABIs for their corresponding 32-bit architectures. Apps and games that use a Corona Labs SDK or Adobe Air software and the AIR SDK have until August 1, 2020 to comply. Games built with Unity 5.6.7 and lower have until August 1, 2021 to comply

I don't know anything about app development and therefore I don't know about the Stack Exchange app, but maybe Google was three days premature if it is because the apps are 32-bit only and used the Corona Labs or Adobe Air SDK.

Maybe it was taken down by Google because they assessed its security level and found risks within the app.

In my view, as it was so buggy, it should have been taken down a long time ago. The apps have not been updated since 2017 and it doesn't look like they will ever be updated with bug fixes, etc. As @GhostCat points out in the comments:

Software that isn't maintained any more is always prone to turn into a security risk.

When you know that your product is not going to be maintained, then kill it for good, instead of keeping it around on some app stores.

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