Over the final a number of weeks, developer Kosta Eleftheriou has been highlighting many obvious scam purposes on the App Store. The components for every scam utility is just about equivalent, and it facilities on pretend evaluations and rankings paired with a misleading weekly subscription.

Eleftheriou is the developer behind FlickType, a preferred Apple Watch keyboard utility that brings gesture typing to the wearable machine. He was additionally one of the creators of the Flesky keyboard app, acquired by Pinterest, and Blind Type, acquired by Google.

The thread started two weeks in the past, when Eleftheriou started highlighting purposes that had been primarily non-functional ripoffs of FlickType. One of the most blatant ones was KeyWatch:

Just a couple of months in the past, I used to be approach forward of my competitors. By the time they found out simply how laborious autocorrect algorithms had been, I used to be already rolling out the swipe model of my keyboard, rapidly approaching iPhone typing speeds. So how did they beat me?

First, they made an app that appeared to satisfy the promise of a watch keyboard – however was virtually unusable. Then, they began closely promoting on FB & Instagram, utilizing my very own promo video, of my very own app, with my precise title on it.

When customers downloaded the app, the first display screen was a clean interface with an “Unlock now” button. Tap the “Unlock now” button, and also you’d be prompted with Apple’s purchase display screen to substantiate an $8/week subscription for an app that was nonfunctional.

What about App Store evaluations and rankings? The KeyWatch builders merely bought pretend rankings and evaluations, which flooded the App Store listings and gave customers the impression the app was a reliable Apple Watch keyboard. According to Appfigures knowledge, KeyWatch was producing $2 million a 12 months by means of its App Store scam.

Fake rankings, and faux evaluations. These rapidly push the scams to the prime of search outcomes, leaving trustworthy & hard-working builders in the mud. An previous downside that’s not straightforward to resolve, however one which’s at the core of why App Store app discovery is so problematic.

After Eleftheriou’s Twitter thread gained traction, Apple eliminated KeyWatch and a handful of different comparable scam Apple Watch keyboard apps from the App Store. That being mentioned, the firm hasn’t taken as swift of motion in opposition to comparable purposes from the similar “developer.”

But since then, Eleftheriou has uncovered extra scam purposes on the App Store. Over the weekend, he posted a easy thread showcasing “how to spot a $5M/year scam on the App Store, in 5 minutes flat.” This time, he showcased Star Gazer+, which continues to be accessible on the App Store with a 4.4 ranking and over 80,000 rankings.

The state of affairs is sort of the similar as the authentic instance of KeyWatch. The “developer” releases a barely-functioning app with a weekly subscription requirement. The App Store itemizing is flooded with pretend rankings and evaluations, tricking customers into pondering it’s a reliable service.

Potential options

Developer Marco Arment chimed in on Twitter, suggesting that one resolution to get rid of these scams can be for Apple to get rid of the weekly subscription billing possibility altogether. This has confirmed to be a typical tactic utilized by many of the scammers highlighted by Eleftheriou’s tweets.

Other builders have additionally joined the dialog suggesting potential options. For occasion, David Barnard retweeted an idea he first shared again in 2019 about how Apple may redesign the App Store’s “buy sheet” to make the fee phrases extra clear for customers.

Eleftheriou additionally factors out that some of Apple’s advertising and marketing supplies for the App Store give customers the impression that they shouldn’t have to fret about scam apps.

He additionally described reaching out to Apple on to about these points when chatting with TechCrunch:

“They put you in contact with the other developer in question, and oversee the thread while they hope you will resolve the issue with the other party directly,” he explains. “The scammers I complained about in that dispute weren’t even the bigger scammers I mention in my Twitter thread. Yet, the complaint I had with them barely got addressed, and there was no response from Apple whatsoever on the issue of the fake ratings and reviews. Simply a ‘if we don’t hear back from you very soon we consider the matter resolved’. We even reached out to Apple privately after that but got no response.”

Theoretically, App Store Review ought to be capable to filter out some of these purposes, however Apple must also make a greater effort to weed out pretend rankings and evaluations. A fast Google search reveals simply how superior this trade is, making Apple’s silence much more deafening.

What do you suppose of the points highlighted by Eleftheriou? Have you ever encountered a scam utility on the App Store? Let us know down in the feedback.

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