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App Store Plagued by Developers Tricky Subscriptions

By Shivam Srivastava
October 16, 2018 2. min read
Last update on: March 16, 2020

In recent news, App Store has found developers using clever subscription tricks to earn money from app downloads. The subscription business is currently bringing $10.6 billion to the App Store and is supposed to grow to $75.7 billion by the year 2022. But some scammers are using the subscription ethically to earn money by fooling users.

Apple celebrated their 10 year anniversary this July. App Store has been revolutionising the iPhone app development services since 10 years and this news is coming as a great threat. The company has been lately focusing on subscriptions more and unintentionally allowed the scammers to play their game.

In one of the cases for such apps, a user complained that the app was initially free to download from the App Store. Once the app was installed, it asked for another download with permission to charge a certain sum of money in order to access the app. Another review said that the app initially allowed to scan only a few documents and then asked for a hefty sum of money. Other complaints said that the apps had multiple pop up ads when the description clearly says no ads.

All this will naturally open the gate to floods of customer complaints unless Apple takes immediate action. Unfortunately, Apple isn’t making subscription management easier for users. The process is tiring as compared to the Google Play Store.

When a user tries to find the subscription management button in the App Store, it will take lots of clicks to reach to the section. However, in Google Play Store the subscription button is third in the top navigation. Apple also has a website to report apps-  but most people don’t know about it.

Which Apps are Scamming Users?

Non-other than the top grossing apps are doing this. In the App Store Top Grossing chart, there is a section of apps labelled as ‘Utilities’ which have apps like QR code reader, translators, weather apps, etc. The services that these apps are providing for a fee is available in other places for free. But still they are Top Grossing, how?

It is possible that these apps have been tricking Apple users into paying subscriptions. When you go through these apps, you will find nothing wrong but as you dig deeper into the review section you will find what’s wrong.

Some of these apps are charging heavily for services as simple as scanning, translating or simply showing data. To name a few apps- QR Scanner and Barcode Scanner ($49.99 a year), Weather ($260 a year), BINANCE ($169.99 a year), Color Call-Theme Screen ($2600 a year), Pics Lock ($3640 a year), Life Tricks Ace ($3120 a year), WebTranslator for Safari ($4680 a year) etc.

Though some of these might be legit apps but the numbers are soaring high which makes things fishy again. The scam is generally found by the review from users but the rating of the app does not change. The reason is, artificially generated fake reviews and ratings that keep the apps on top.

Apple has taken actions against few of these scammers and the WebTranslator for Safari app is no longer on the App Store. But there still many more apps stealing money from users. Apple has a tough screening process when it comes to app submission in App Store. Any developer’s app goes through a checklist of points curated by App Store that allows only the best apps to enter the App Store. But somehow the fake apps have managed to pass through the system.

This scamming is not only bothering the company and the users but also the genuine mobile app developers who have to compete against these scammers. This has brought down the sales of legitimate apps because the users fear scammers.

For now, Apple is relying on the developer guidelines and the reporting website to stay clear of the scammers. The PR team of Apple has not yet made any comments on the issue but hopefully, they are planning a full proof strategy to boycott these cheaters.

Our team at Appinventiv curated a 70 point checklist guide to App Store Submission that will help genuine developers get their apps on the App Store. For further inquiries feel free to contact us.

Shivam Srivastava
Shivam Srivastava
Marcom Manager
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