As the length of the names hasn’t really been the problem, it is keyword spamming at the end of the name.
But the 50 character limit is still interesting to consider, so I dug through my App Store metadata cache to see just how many apps would be affected. It looks like only around 9% of apps currently have names that are longer than 50 characters (around 200k).
Of the ones that do have names longer than 50 characters — all the way up to a hard 255 character limit — many are stuffed with often irrelevant keywords in a bid to capture searches from users looking for mainstream apps.
I’m more surprised that this crap is let into the App Store. The review guidelines are full of references to this being exactly the sort of stuff they don’t want:
If your app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice app into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.
This has always been in the guidelines, but appears to be rarely enforced. For proof, just search for a popular app in the Store: Instagram, Tweetbot, and NYTimes will all work. Then, just scroll right to the bottom and find yourself wading through the App Store equivalent of a backalley flea market.
I would rather the App Store have much tighter restrictions than it currently seems to. I know a plethora of choice is advantageous to consumers, but the minimum bar for quality should be much, much higher.