The developer of FlickType, a popular Apple Watch Keyboard app, Kosta Eleftheriou has discovered several scam apps on App Store which are robbing users of millions of dollars. These non-functional apps gain legitimacy by publishing fake reviews and ratings to convince users to make in-app weekly/ monthly/ yearly purchases.
Recently, it was discovered that many apps on the App Store had inaccurate and misleading privacy labels. The iOS 14 privacy updates made it mandatory for developers to disclose how users’ data is collected and used, but in hindsight, it feels like Apple allowed developers to lie to users by not thoroughly review the published privacy labels. And Eleftheriou’s discovery casts shadows of doubt on App Store review process.
Developer finds scam apps on App Store in minutes
In addition to FlickType, Kosta Eleftheriou is the creator of the Flesky Keyboard app and Blind Type, therefore, it was easy for him to spot fake apps in minutes. In his thread on Twitter, @Eleftheriou shared how a copy of his popular FlickType app, called KeyWatch was scamming people with his name and video.
Just a few months ago, I was way ahead of my competition. By the time they figured out just how hard autocorrect algorithms were, I was already rolling out the swipe version of my keyboard, quickly approaching iPhone typing speeds. So how did they beat me?
First, they made an app that appeared to fulfill the promise of a watch keyboard – but was practically unusable. Then, they started heavily advertising on FB & Instagram, using my own promo video, of my own app, with my actual name on it.
He quoted a shocking $2 million per year amount generated by these scam apps on App Store.
But wait, you say. People will see it doesn’t work well & not give any money – surely! Well, this is the first screen you get upon launching the app: zero explanation, no close button, no price. Tap to “unlock”, and you’re now 1 step away from confirming a $416/year subscription.
“A safe and trusted place to discover and download apps”
“We want you to feel good about using every single one of them”
“No surprise purchases”
“Moderators review worldwide App Store charts for quality and accuracy”
“Removed over 60M user reviews that were considered spam”
🙄😬 https://t.co/SVaPfgpVto pic.twitter.com/89JqATaal8
— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) February 7, 2021
To his, and our dismay, KeyWatch is one of many such fake apps on Apple’s digital market place which are scamming people, tainting the reputation, and hard work of legitimate developers by using their names and creations by using fake reviews and ratings. A serious issue that has gone unnoticed by the only $2 trillion U.S company.
These are just one of the many scammers I have to somehow deal with, and one out of the *many* scammers plaguing the App Store, stealing unsuspecting people’s money every day – only because people have been led to believe they can trust app ratings and reviews.And so, because scammers are willing to break the App Store rules and sink to unethical behavior I would never consider, it’s impossible for me to compete with them.