The reports related to the increasing number of Apple App Store apps scamming iPhone and iPad users is quite concerning. The new scam, however, questions the integrity of the whole Apple Store itself.
If you are wondering that despite all the mind-boggling development work, users’ appraise and positive feedbacks your app is falling short to compete with your competitors’ app, then you must know the scamming trick here, which Apple has ignored for months now.
The new scam is extremely easy to deploy and many iOS apps are taking undue advantage of it to kill the competition. The is similar to fake reviews and ratings which helps an app to achieve a higher ranking on App Store. The difference, however, this time is all that fake ratings are coming from genuine users.
Once an iPhone or iPad user downloads a scam app, he is forced to give a high rating to the app in order to use the app. This is definitely against the T&Cs listed by all app stores, be it Google Play or Apple App Store. Surprisingly, Apple behaved remained ignorant to the issue for many months until this has been unearthed by Eleftheriou.
In a series of tweets, Eleftheriou shared a few videos showcasing how these scam apps don’t allow any iPhone and iPad user to move further without rating the app. What is even more surprising is that a user can neither rate single or two stars nor close the rating popup without giving 3-star or move. It’s just like earning browny points forcefully irrespective of how satisfied or dissatisfied your employer is with your performance.
After Eleftheriou’s tweets gone viral, Apple took note of the issue and quickly removed the first app the developer found from the App Store; the damages were done by then. The app was already downloaded more than 15 million times and undoubtedly such fudged rating played a crucial role in its impressive download figure.
Before Eleftheriou could have a sign of relief from Apple’s crackdown on the app, he was stunned to see that there were hundreds of other apps available on the Apple App Store practising the same.
Another popular developer Guilherme Rambo revealed how such apps have been taking the advantage of a flaw in Apple’s own code which is not fixed for months.
After realising that the matter could bring humiliation that could be difficult to ignore anymore, Apple has tried to play down the matter. Apple’s Director of Marketing Michael Gartenberg reacted to such a serious flaw and massive scam in a sentence “How did this one slip through?“
If Apple don’t know, then who else!
Little did he knew that there are enough skeletons out there people could dig and put Apple in a tough spot. The ongoing legal battle saga between Epic and Apple has revealed a lot much information that Apple probably never wanted to come into the public domain. Eric Friedman, head of Apple’s Fraid Engineering Algorithms And Risk (FEAR) unit revealed something in a document related to the legal battle that could put Tim Cook and management in a very humiliating situation.
In that document, Eric defines Apple’s App Store screening and security process as “bringing a plastic butter knife to a gunfight” saying the App Store review process is “more like the pretty lady who greets you… at the Hawaiian airport than the drug-sniffing dog”.
After considering the gravity of the situation, Apple’s effort to play down the matter and such humiliating statements from Apple’s own executives, one must consider all App Store rating compromised and misleading.
For sure, Apple will fix the issue after the humiliating reporting from various media, but there is no way it can fix the ratings of those scam apps that have taken an advantage of Apple’s ignorance towards the flaw in their codes.
In fact, Eleftheriou comes with a strong statement that none of Apple executives would like to read:
“I believe that nothing short of a total App Store reset can fix the problem of millions of fake ratings & reviews that have accumulated over the years.”
However, it’s going to be next to impossible for Apple as such reset will impact each and every app listed on App Store and will impact all other apps developers that have sweat day and night to earn the best reviews and ratings for their apps in an honest and legitimate way.
As far as Eleftheriou is concerned, he is suing Apple for his own app FlickType was mimicked by scammers and Apple gave deaf ears to his requests.
Eleftheriou is not alone, there are many app developers who worked day and night to get their app to attract the eyeballs of targeted iPhone and iPad users but failed measurably to app scammers.
But the big question here is: Will Apple dare to mimic Android ever again for its security and privacy flaw?