Monday, April 24, 2023

The Dark Side of the Mac App Store


In the last 30 days, I have been closely monitoring the Mac App Store and have made a disturbing discovery. In the midst of the OpenAI frenzy, several apps have surfaced that are copying the iconic OpenAI logo and color scheme in order to mislead unsuspecting MacOS App Store users. But that’s not all — I also found that some developers are abusing Apple’s Developer Agreements by spamming multiple accounts and flooding the store with nearly identical applications.


The scammy developers didn’t even bother to make a different paywall style for both apps. Both apps share the same paywall with slight differences and there is no close button. This behavior of not providing a close button on the paywalls is highly unethical and can be considered a scam. It puts the users in a frustrating situation where they are forced to either subscribe or forcibly quit the application to regain control of their device.


More than 175 reviews were received in the last 24 hours Worldwide with 63 total reviews received in the US Store. These reviews were possible by using a simple abusive technique: request the user to review your app immediately after the subscription to the application and every time the user asks a question to the OpenAI without allowing the user to test your application more time.


Update (2023-04-25): Nick Heer:

In fact, upon opening the App Store on my iPhone, the first thing I saw was an ad on the search page for an app which looks, at first glance, like an official OpenAI app — same colours, similar logo, and a description with a conspicuous use of the word “Open”. As of writing, it is the ninth most popular app in the Productivity category — and, yes, of course it offers paid subscriptions.

See also: Hacker News.


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