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Bad apps: Apple needs to clean up its App Store house



People always say to the Macalope, “Oh, Macalope, you only defend Apple, you never criticize Apple.” And “Oh, Macalope, you’re such an Apple apologist.” And “Oh, Macalope, seriously, how do you type with hooves? It makes no sense. You wouldn’t be able to get enough articulation to be able to-”

OKAY, THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER.

The horny one will say it again for the people in the back: all he asks is that people criticize Apple logically about things that actually matter. Is that so hard? Sometimes it seems like it’s impossible, like there’s a law of freakin’ thermodynamics against it. Or even regular thermodynamics.

This week, however, we do have something good to complain about and complain about it we shall. Take that, thermodynamics!

Hate you so much.

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou has been on a tear lately identifying scammy apps on the App Store after discovering a ripoff of his own app, FlickType. The ripoff artists used Eleftheriou’s own video to push their app, which immediately requests you pay $8 per week to unlock it.

Oh, and the app does nothing. There’s also that.

Eleftheriou has found multiple apps that exhibit the same scammy behavior, using paid reviews to push non-functional apps that charge exorbitant weekly fees. And they make millions of dollars a year off of it.

One of the promises of the App Store was that it would not be the wild, wild west. And now it has turned into the wild, wild west and not the good Wild Wild West featuring Robert Conrad but the crappy Wild Wild West featuring Will Smith. And a giant mechanical spider at the end. But that’s not really relevant right now.

It’s just a bad movie. That’s what you need to know.

The first thing Apple’s App Store webpage says is “The apps you love. From a place you can trust.” Call him a weird freak with a human body and a computer head with antlers, but scammy apps that charge you weekly for nothing are not something the Macalope loves.

Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines also state:

Customer trust is the cornerstone of the App Store’s success. Apps should never prey on users or attempt to rip-off customers, trick them into making unwanted purchases, force them to share unnecessary data, raise prices in a tricky manner, charge for features or content that are not delivered, or engage in any other manipulative practices within or outside of the app.

This might be easier to swallow if Apple didn’t have the bad habit of rejecting apps—apps that do exactly what they’re supposed to do and cost absolutely nothing—based on poor interpretation of the apps’ functionality.

Apple has created the most restrictive smartphone app store based on the promise that, while it would limit the types of apps allowed, overall the apps would be safer, more secure and of better quality. It might be better than the competition’s stores, but people are still getting preyed upon. The company set this bar itself and it should make sure it lives up to it. Right now it’s not.

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