Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Widgetsmith and The Case of the Missing App Store Bunco Squad

John Gruber:

Search for “Widgetsmith” — the exact name of Smith’s app — and the first app in the results is not Widgetsmith but a name-alike ripoff called, I swear, “Widgetsmith - Color Widgets”. This utterly shameless ripoff, replete with a ham-fisted knockoff of the icon to boot, is listed above the actual Widgetsmith, despite the fact that the actual Widgetsmith is currently the #1 app in Productivity and has over 53,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews. The ripoff app has 25 5-star ratings, one 1-star rating, and one written review, which reads, verbatim, “Thank developer for making such great app especially for iOS 14!” The entire description of the ripoff app is written in similar broken English.


The ripoff version is now popular enough to be ranked #7 on the Entertainment list.


The App Store is not trustworthy if that includes trusting that the apps in its trending lists and search results are legitimate. If Apple ran a food court like they run the App Store they’d let a McDowell’s open up two stores down from McDonald’s.

Second, even accepting that this app was allowed into the store with this name and this icon, how in the world does it rank ahead of the actual Widgetsmith in search results?

Marco Arment:

With all of the bullshit Apple’s app review puts us through, I can’t believe how many obvious scams and clones they let through.

Apparently, they don’t check new submissions to see if they’re obviously infringing directly on the name and icon of the #1 app in the App Store.

Marco Arment:

And not addressing another problem, in which the subtitle field was introduced to stop app titles of the form:

App Name - Spammy Keywords

…with a resulting promise that the rules would prohibit such names in the future — but they aren’t, hence penalizing only the good devs.

Jason Chase:

Copies the number one AND number two apps. Looking at the screenshots it copied color widgets (#2 app) then they tacked on Widgetsmith to the App Store name.


Update (2020-10-01): David Smith:

It is kind of amazing to me that on the Google Play store it is even possible to have two copycats using exactly the same name, at the same time. Three overall right now, with one I had removed over the weekend. I guess this is my life now...or I need to make an Android app 😱.

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