Apple accused of promoting scam 'slime relaxation' apps in App Store

Posted:
in iOS
Users in Australia are complaining that the App Store is featuring "slime relaxation" apps that may not do anything, except charge steep subscriptions.

Credit: James Yarema
Credit: James Yarema


Scam apps have made their way onto both Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store before, with some making millions of dollars. Now, however, Apple is being accused of actively promoting apps that reportedly do little or nothing, and yet can charge users up to $500 (AU$676) per year.

This is infuriating. How is Apple *featuring* these scams?

Let's take a look at one of these apps!

"Jelly: Slime simulator, ASMR"

1/https://t.co/lDTn8eEVfz pic.twitter.com/VyYKUSLdJE

-- Simeon (@twolivesleft)


In a Twitter thread started by developer Simeon, Apple is shown to be promoting an app called Jelly: Slime simulation ASMR in its list of "featured" apps.

This app has a free three-day trial, then charges $9.64 (AU$13) per week.

"[As] as a developer who is not looking to scam people (I don't want your money accidentally! Nor do I want to charge obscene amounts for trivial things)," continues Simeon, "this makes it hard for anyone to trust us & the App Store."

Another Twitter user by the name Beau Nouvelle, claims that Apple has promoted these apps before. "One of them doesn't even do anything," he says.

Apple has not commented. However, it has previously and consistently maintained that it curates the App Store to protect users.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    A failure so huge it can be seen from space.  

    Letting them get onto the App Store is one thing, but does this mean Apple doesn’t even run the apps it’s promoting?
    chemengin1watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,860member
    I don't get it.  Every app I've ever used that had a free trial needed me to confirm and authenticate the subscription renewal, and made clear clear how much I was being charged.  Is that not the case for these apps?
    aderutterkillroyapplguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    This is likely the result of one of two things:

    1) an algorithm running promotions

     or… more likely…

    2) an overworked (or possibly lazy but I doubt it) App Store marketer who simply saw some hot keywords and thought it looked cool snd had some medicinal value. Sounds like a win, right? Perhaps this person put too much trust in those vetting apps. 

    Reminder for all of us: do your due diligence. 
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,553member
    Slime relaxation?

    weekly subscription? Slimy apps. 
  • Reply 5 of 8
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,536member
    Rayz2016 said:
    A failure so huge it can be seen from space.  

    Letting them get onto the App Store is one thing, but does this mean Apple doesn’t even run the apps it’s promoting?
    Yeah, imagine what will happen when Apple has no control at all over what gets in the App Store. Imagine the third party shit that will get installed when side-loading is mandated. 
    maximarawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    s.metcalfs.metcalf Posts: 912member
    Every “freemium” game with consumable in-app currencies—where it’s possible to spend an unlimited amount of money very quickly—is a slimy scam app; and Apple promotes these heavily.  They are built to employ addictive elements and target people with gambling and self-control difficulties.

    This app, though bad and clearly a waste of money, appears to be less dangerous than freemium games, because there’s an actual limit on how much you can spend, and it’s far lower than the maximum single purchase of in-game currency in many freemium games, which can be over a hundred dollars with no limits on the number of times they can be purchased.

    The bottom line is: Apple only cares about protecting users when it has little to no impact on its bottom line, or potentially enhances it in the case of marketing opportunities such as with the privacy debate.  They don’t care if there’s a buck to be made, or they would not have added insidious “Consumable” in-app purchases as a supported In-App purchase type.

    I just checked the “What We’re Playing” promoted category, and the top 7 in the list were obscene freemium games.  The first non-freemium game was Minecraft and the next one was all the way down the list at 18th.  Of the top 20 in that list, only 3 appeared to lack consumable IAPs.  Honest developers that have a conscience and a soul have a mountain to climb when competing against this kind of promotion from Apple.

    What’s scary is how games went from something you paid for once, to occasionally requiring a subscription for regular updates (reasonable), to all of a sudden being able to spend an infinite amount of money on, and few people seemed to bat an eyelid or see a problem with this, much less take Apple to task over it.

    I just have to laugh a bit every time Apple pretends to be this bastion of moral decency given the way they promote harmful freemium games.
    edited August 8 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 8
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,231member
    This appears to be a coordinated ploy intended to undermine the case that the App Store’s closed model protects consumers. You can tell it’s nonsense because the camp promoting this “problem” offers the solution of making the control of what apps get installed less secure. Opening up to side loading isn’t going to do anything to stop unscrupulous apps. It will make them more common and more difficult to escape.

    They are following the same flawed logic as the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. Those folks argue that because the vaccines and masks aren’t 100% successful at preventing the disease, you shouldn’t vaccinate or mask up at all. In this case, people who follow the flawed logic can and do die.

    It’s a fundamental distortion and intentional misunderstanding of the basic concept of probabilities. The App Store’s policies and processes keep a lot of unscrupulous crap from reaching Apple’s customers. Is it 100%? No. Does that mean the baby should be thrown out with the bath water? No.

    Missing from the criticisms of Apple and these seemingly skeevy apps is a critical backstop. As soon as a customer realizes something unseemly got through and they’ve signed up for a repeating bill they don’t want, they can easily go into their settings and cancel the subscription, no questions asked. That alone is worth the price of admission.

    In the alternative on the “open market,” an app developer that’s just in it to sign people up for a repeating charge will make it easy to sign up and as difficult as possible to cancel. Sign up in-app and online, but canceling requires calling a number on the fifth Thursday of the month between 4:13 a.m. and 4:27 a.m. If you can ever actually get through, the operator will speak poor English and will subject you to questions and challenges to prevent you from cancelling.

    If a scam app gets through the App Store’s process, absolutely criticize Apple and get them to remove it. In no logical way, however, does this lead to the argument that the App Store isn’t vastly more protective of consumers than the alternatives.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,860member
    lkrupp said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    A failure so huge it can be seen from space.  

    Letting them get onto the App Store is one thing, but does this mean Apple doesn’t even run the apps it’s promoting?
    Yeah, imagine what will happen when Apple has no control at all over what gets in the App Store. Imagine the third party shit that will get installed when side-loading is mandated. 
    For that argument to work Apple have to be better at keeping these shitty apps out.  The quality argument is worthless if your App Store is host to this kind of garbage.
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