Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Weather Alarms Scam

David Barnard:

I just don’t get why Apple isn’t doing more to actively search and remove scam apps from the App Store. I’ve spent like 10 minutes digging into market data for the Weather category and already found that the #11 top grossing is a scam app charging a $20/mo subscription.

There should be a team at Apple scouring the top grossing charts looking for this crap and watching for apps shooting up in search results and/or category rankings. There are SO MANY apps doing search boost campaigns, tricky subscriptions, and all sorts of other shady stuff.

Every time I spend a few minutes doing market research I find a few apps like this. I’m sure I could find 100 more if I spent a couple days on it. How can Apple not be finding these?! Weather Alarms has been in the top grossing charts for months (likely making >$10k/mo)

Previously: In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store.

Update (2018-06-04): David Barnard:

Unbelievable… that scammy weather app I tweeted about in April (Weather Alarms) is on the WWDC big screen. They must have just compiled the list based on downloads/revenue and not bothered looking at whether the apps legit.

Update (2018-10-05): John Koetsier:

An obscure app that reads bar codes is scamming hundreds of App Store users by automatically initiating an expensive $156 per year subscription. And there are dozens more like it, with some charging users thousands of dollars each month for extremely minimal functionality.

Via David Barnard:

I’ve been bringing these issues to Apple’s attention publicly & privately for over a year. It’s incredibly frustrating how little has been done to thwart these scams. It erodes trust in the App Store which ultimately hurts Apple and conscientious developers who use subscriptions.

Update (2018-10-19): Sarah Perez:

But alongside this healthy growth, a number of scammers are now taking advantage of subscriptions in order to trick users into signing up for expensive and recurring plans. They do this by intentionally confusing users with their app’s design and flow, by making promises of “free trials” that convert after only a matter of days, and other misleading tactics.


The issue of scam apps may not always be the failure of App Store review. It’s possible that the scammy apps sneak in their tricks after Apple’s App Review team approves them, making them harder to catch.

But for the time being, users have to take it upon themselves to cancel these sneaky subscriptions.

Unfortunately, Apple isn’t making it as easy for users to get to their subscriptions as it could be.

Bruno Virlet:

First notice how the app is called “Scanner app” on the AppStore but once you download it, it’s called iScanner on your home screen. That’s a first confusing part and that’s the result of putting more value on ASO than creating a brand and app name familiar to their users.

Previously: In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store, The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams.

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