Apple is famous for its strict--and sometimes seemingly capricious--rules around what apps it will and won't accept into the App Store. Sometimes, though, an app that shouldn't be allowed into the App Store slips through is available for a few hours or days before it's removed. Even though those apps are removed from the store, if you managed to get them before they were removed, you can still use them.
Dealing with these apps isn't quite the same as with other apps. For one thing, you won't find them in the App Store if you search or the re-download section of your iTunes account. So how do you install an app that's been removed from the App Store?
It turns out that this process actually isn't terribly hard. It just requires knowing where to look for and put files.
1. In order to do this, you need to have access to the app, which exists as a .ipa file on your device or computer. If you purchased the app on your computer, it should continue to be visible in iTunes and available to you. Just sync your iOS device and it should appear in the Apps tab in iTunes. If so, you're all set and can skip to Step 7. Just sync it and you'll be able to use it.
2. If you bought the app on your device itself, you should already be able to use it. But you'll want to make sure you back it up to your computer by syncing. Since the app has been pulled from the store, you won't be able to redownload it from your account, so if you delete it, it's gone forever--unless you back it up. To do that, sync your device. You should be prompted to transfer purchases from the device to your computer. If not, click File -> Transfer Purchases. This should move the app to your computer.
3. There are other ways that you may need to move the .ipa file from one computer to another. For instance, one family member might have the app and want to share it with others, but it can't be done because the app has been pulled from the App Store. In that case you need to navigate through your hard drive to the folder that all your apps are stored in.
On a Mac, you'll find this folder at Music -> iTunes -> iTunes Media -> Mobile Applications On Windows, it's located at My Music -> iTunes -> iTunes Media -> Mobile Applications.
4. Find the .ipa for the app you want to share. You can email it or copy it onto a USB drive or other removable storage media. Quit iTunes on the other person's computer. Then transfer the .ipa file to their computer, and drag and drop it into the Mobile Applications folder on their computer.
5. Launch iTunes on their desktop or laptop.
6. Connect their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and let it sync.
7. Go to the Apps tab and search for the app you want to install. It should appear. Check the box next to it and resync to install it on their iOS device.
8. With this done, if you click the Apps menu in the left-hand sidebar tray in iTunes, you should see the app in the list of all the apps on your computer.
IMPORTANT: An app downloaded using one iTunes account can only be used by other devices that use the same account/Apple ID. So, if you use one iTunes account and your brother uses another, you can't share apps. You can only share apps if you and your spouse, or you and your kids, etc., use the same Apple ID on your iOS devices. Cracking apps to share them is stealing from the developers and shouldn't be done.
Reasons Apps Are Removed from the App Store
Apple doesn't (generally) pull apps from the App Store without good reason. Some of the most common reasons that apps get pulled include:
- Violating Apple's rules for how you can develop apps or how apps can function
- Infringing copyright
- Being very low quality
- Promoting illegal, potentially illegal, or dangerous behavior
- Containing malware
- Being offensive
- Allowing the user to do something that Apple doesn't want (such as apps that allow free tethering, letting the user bypass needing to purchase tethering service from their phone carrier)
Will Apple Refund The Price of Pulled Apps?
If an app you purchased has been pulled and you don't want to go through the hassle of installing it across computers detailed above, you may want to seek out a refund. You can certainly try, but your likelihood of success is probably low. Apple generally doesn't give app refunds, but it has happened, so it can't hurt to try.