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Dash returns to App Store seven months after review system manipulation accusations

Dash, an API documentation browser, has reappeared in the iOS App Store seven months after it was removed over alleged review manipulation, with developer Bogdan Popescu claiming the app was resubmitted to stop others from uploading their own copy-cat apps using the open-sourced code.

After the removal of Dash from the Mac and iOS App Stores in October last year, Popescu has kept Dash for macOS available to purchase from his own website. The developer elected to open source the iOS version of the app, but writes that there have been "a lot of requests for Dash to get back on the App Store," due to the difficult process of getting it running from the source code.

Popescu notes a number of other people have violated the GNU GPL license of the source code by using it to make their own version of the app, and then uploading it to the App Store. Popescu notes that Apple has been "very responsive" in removing the violating apps when requested, but admits to feeling "tired" of repeatedly filling out the copyright claim forms when slightly altered versions of the same app resurface.

"I've made a personal developer account which Apple accepted and the review for Dash for iOS went through without any issues," advises Popescu. "I hope this will somewhat stave off the pirated copies of Dash from appearing on the App Store."

Dash was pulled from the App Stores following investigations into the app's reviews, with Popescu notified his iTunes Connect account was closed for "fraudulent activity." Apple told Popescu he was accused of manipulating reviews, such as paying for positive feedback.

An Apple statement alleged there were "almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews" detected across two accounts and 25 apps from the developer. It is claimed Apple's anti-fraud team worked with Popescu for at least two years before the removals, with initial warnings unanswered and repeated attempts to clarify the situation also failing before action was taken.

"We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers," wrote Apple in the statement. "This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers."

Popescu responded to the statement, at the time claiming Apple failed to notify him of wrongdoing prior to the termination of the account. The questionable activity was taking place on a second account created for a relative using his credit card and old test devices, and since the warnings were sent to the relative's account instead of his own, Popescu claimed he did not receive the notifications at all.

Apple apparently offered to reactivate Popescu's account if he created a blog post admitting "some wrongdoing," but the developer declined. A second post containing "the truth" of the situation was supposedly requested instead, and though Popescu submitted a draft to Apple for review, Apple decided instead to issue the public statement.