In a fascinating and must-read piece that originally appeared on Medium, Johnny Lin details how a number of ostensibly security-oriented apps are generating upwards of $80,000 a month by basically tricking consumers into signing up for security-based app subscriptions that they most certainly do not need.
According to new rules, developers can not display the app review prompts whenever they wish too, instead now they have to follow 2 important points before doing so.
The pricey subscription offers a "Full Virus, Malware scanner", which Lin notes is technically impossible since all third-party iOS apps are confined to their own app sandbox and hence can't interrogate other installed apps. The leading business also released updates to its App store policies which officially designates voluntary tipping through virtual payments.
"Given how many legitimate developers are still having problems getting their apps approved due to seemingly capricious App Store reviewer decisions, it's doubly outrageous that these apps have made their way onto the store in the first place". Until Apple removes these scam apps and improves its app review policies, spread the word to make sure family and friends don't get ripped off! Apps may add in-app purchase currencies for tipping purposes, but Apple will get 30% as commission. The answer, apparently, is search ads. The App Store estimates Mobile Protection was downloaded some 50,000 times in April alone.
Yet it was briefly riding high with $80,000 (roughly £63,000/AU$106,000) per month in revenue according to Sensor Tower, so how did it succeed?
As always, Apple is very strict about the ways their users can watch their live streams. Tapping on the trial offer then threw up a Touch ID authentication prompt containing the text "You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription starting Jun 9, 2017". If app makers don't comply, they'll be removed from the App Store.
Gruber argued that Apple needs to reassess "the effects of allowing developers to buy their way to the top spot in search results".
"They're taking advantage of the fact that there's no filtering or approval process for ads, and that ads look nearly indistinguishable from real results, and some ads take up the entire search result's first page", wrote Lin. It seems like scammers are bidding on many other keywords.
And perhaps more importantly, their subscription fees start from $4.54 per month; around 1/20 of the fee for this scam app on the US App Store.