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The last time I wrote about scam subscription apps, I finished by saying this:

Communication about what Apple is doing and how they think about these problems would be a huge step in the right direction.

So, when Apple published a press release this week titled “App Store stopped more than $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions in 2020” followed by 1,300 words about the measures they take to counter scam apps and fraudulent developers, I should have been thrilled.

Yes, I wish it hadn’t taken the discovery phase of a major lawsuit to prompt them to make a statement, but I am happy that they’re talking about it.

The statistics they quote are impressive, too. As I suspected, there’s lots of work going on behind the scenes. $1.5B of prevented fraudulent transactions. 150,000 spam apps rejected. 470,000 developer accounts terminated. 250 million ratings and reviews removed. That’s a lot! What a great job they’ve been doing. Right?

That’s certainly the message of this press release, but I’m afraid it did not make my wishes come true. My disappointment comes from how they talk about these problems. This is a press release, so it’s not a surprise that it paints a positive picture of the company, but they talk about these issues like they are completely solved and have been on top of the problem from the beginning. There’s no mention of “we have a lot of work to do” or any hint that the App Store isn’t a perfect fortress of impeccable moderation and scrutiny. The work they are doing is impressive, as I knew it would be, but the problem is a very long way from being solved. In fact, to “solve” it shouldn’t be the goal. To genuinely keep on top of it should be.

All of the talk about “relentless steps forward to combat these risks” would sound much more authentic if the scam apps were harder to find. Take a look at this tweet from Kosta Eleftheriou, for example. It’s a screenshot of an app he created as a solo developer without access to any internal Apple systems, and it shows a list of problematic apps. It’s clear that the problem is not solved, and Apple is not keeping up.

I wish Apple could find a way to be more honest about some of the more negative aspects of the App Store in their developer communications. Yes, a press release isn’t the correct venue for that, especially with all the lawsuits, but it must be possible. If not, it’s time to shut us up by living up to the claims made in this press release. I think we’d all be happy with that as a solution instead. 👍

Dave Verwer

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iOS Developer @ Doximity – Doximity, the medical network used by over 70% of US clinicians, is hiring passionate iOS engineers (full-time remote!). You'll get to be part of an amazing product team and work on an app that is constantly evolving. Use your skills (Swift, MVVM, FRP) to be an integral part of our newly launched telemedicine feature. Apply today! – Remote within the US

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Insiders

Thanks so much to this week’s iOS Dev Weekly Insiders! Andrew Yates, Adam Wiggins, Jeff Deimund, Kris Arnold, and Daniel Haight. Your support means the world to me. Thank you. 😍

This week’s insider call happens in a few hours from now, so there’s still time to sign up and join us! We’ll be chatting about the App Store today, as you might expect. 😬

And finally...

Type carefully in App Store Connect! 😂