Apple has long argued that its walled garden approach with regards to its iOS App Store has been designed to provide users with the best and safest possible experience. We can certainly see the merits in such an argument, but at the same time, it has been pointed out that this isn’t always the case.
Recently, developer and co-founder of the Fleksy keyboard app Kosta Eleftheriou has uncovered a scam iOS app that has managed to make its way past Apple’s review process. While we’re not surprised that sometimes things do slip through the cracks, this app has not only been allowed to remain as it is despite violating multiple rules, but it has also been earning $1 million a month from in-app purchases.
I don't know what's worse about this app:
– “Translated” fake reviews
– “Recommended by Apple” popups in Safari
– https://t.co/Kq5lRrKCWc contact email
– Blank website, registered in India
– $9.99/week subscription
– Grossing $1M (!) a month
What is Apple even doing?? pic.twitter.com/5oUBCJ2GNh
— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) April 7, 2021
The app, called StringVPN (which we think might be a play on StrongVPN, a VPN provider), was found by Eleftheriou to have fake translated reviews, a website that is blank and registered in India, is apparently “recommended by Apple”, and charges users $9.99 a week for a subscription to its service.
Eleftheriou claims that such an app should have never been allowed to exist, at least based on Apple’s own rules and guidelines, so it is weird that it was even approved and allowed to remain. It is unclear if the app has since been removed after it was brought to Apple’s attention, but as some of the comments in the thread have pointed out, it is frustrating for developers whose apps get rejected for seemingly vague and obscure reasons, while scam apps like these are allowed.