Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Movie Piracy App Tops App Store Charts

Joshua Long:

On Tuesday, [March] 12, a researcher named Kedsayahm noticed that an app that featured pirated TV shows and movies was quickly climbing the charts in the App Store. The app was already #1 in the Entertainment category in Egypt at the time, and in the top 10 for Entertainment in at least three other countries: Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Germany. It was also #21 in the Entertainment category in the United States, and #170 in the Top Free in the U.S. as well.


By [March] 14, the app had reached astounding highs: #2 in the Entertainment category in the U.S., and #18 in the overall Top Free list in the U.S., in the iOS App Store. This is especially surprising considering that the app’s name, tagline, icon, and screenshots were all in Arabic—even in the English-language U.S. App Store.


But another concerning aspect of the story is that the app included in-app purchases: $5.99 to supposedly remove ads (no ads were visible in the researcher’s screen recording), and 99¢ to “tip” the developer.


Also last week, there was yet another fake cryptocurrency app in the App Store. It seems to have first been reported on publicly on May 11, a day before the piracy app was called out. This app used the logo and name of PancakeSwap, a decentralized finance (DeFi) site that doesn’t have an official app.

Luc Vandal:

In today’s “App Review is Clearly Fucked Up” news, it is now considered manipulating reviews to ask for them in the What’s new section? 🤦‍♂️

And no, Screens doesn’t manipulate reviews; it follows the approved method of requesting reviews from users.

I also don’t like that they imply that we manipulate reviews. Please concentrate on actual scammers, Apple, not legit developers that have been on the App Store since its inception.


Got a notice two weeks ago that my app would be removed due to some screenshots that weren’t in compliance with the guidelines. Have since then uploaded a new version with screenshots that are in compliance with the guidelines, but the reviewer still decided to reject based on the same guideline.

Wrote a reply to the reviewer 24 hours ago (10 min after the rejection), explaining that the screenshots are in compliance, but still has not gotten a reply. And today the app was removed from sale. How long should one have to wait for a reply from the reviewer?

Have filed an appeal. but that usually takes days, and even weeks. So my app will lose all momentum on the charts!


Update (2024-03-29): BenedictC:

I recently had a free app rejected for falling foul of clause 5.1.1. 5.1.1 has 10 subclauses. There was a lot of back and forth and a trip to the review panel. I plead numerous times for them to give more details and every time they just restated it was a problem with clause 5.1.1. Utter waste of my time and shows the lack of respect Apple have towards developers.

Khaos Tian:

The reviewer is insisting something is not allowed when the prior submission was explicitly approved by review board 🫠 There is really no punishment for reviewer rejecting for the wrong reason I guess…

Update (2024-04-24): Luc Vandal:

Sometimes I wonder if app review even bothers to test apps properly before rejecting them for unjustified reasons. If only I had included a way to change the app icon in the app settings. 🧐 […] They always try to find silly reasons to reject the iOS version. This has been going on for months now.

Update (2024-04-30): Khaos Tian:

Life of an Apple developer 🫠 Apple really don’t like a browser to include bookmarks mentioning “GeForce Now” or “Xbox Cloud Gaming”… Ended up renaming it to “Cloud Gaming G” and “Cloud Gaming X” 😅

4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

IANAL, but this is the crap the government should be focused on. These seemingly arbitrary and unevenly applied rules affect the livelihood of individual developers in a drastic way.

On top of that, I can only imagine the excellent and innovative apps that many have dreamed up but decided to never develop because of the uncertainty that it may get rejected AFTER the investment goes in developing or because they fall outside of the rules.

And how many business could thrive with a 5-15% Apple fee but can’t survive with 30%?

This whole mess has a terrible effect on the developer community and on Apple’s own platforms. One can only imagine how things could be…

So a piracy app that Apple could take a cut of the proceeds from was on the App Store for a good while, but normal developers are still being blocked capriciously? Alert Gruber so he can tell us why the new App Store rules will cause this thing to happen in the future… but we are totally protected now from such unsavory business.

@Nathan I totally feel you there. This is yet another slap to the face of everyone who's trying to sell a good app on the app store, and a slap to the face of users who don't want or need the "protection" of the app store.

@Bri Exactly. The protections are largely a myth and it's about Apple controlling their cut of the proceeds.

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