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Anonymous developers claim fraud, scams & clones breeze by App Store review

App Store review continues to be a problem

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A collection of statements from anonymous Apple developers claim App Store review is broken, some resorting to outright fraud to get apps approved.

Apple's App Store and its policies around it are controversial to say the least. Regulatory bodies constantly debate whether it's some form of antitrust, while developers complain of artificial roadblocks and limitations.

A report from shares a list of anonymous statements from developers complaining of the difficulties they've found in publishing apps. Most state that app review is broken, while others share that fraud and shady app features were easy to get through.

While many of these statements are damning of app review, remember that it's fairly easy to get negative statements from disgruntled people. We expect these accounts to be true, but without attribution, there isn't any way to verify.

There are eleven individual and anonymous statements.

  • A game developer gave up and focused on Android after numerous rejections, one citing, "This is not entertainment."
  • A developer said sneaking illicit features through is easy, "just switch on features remotely after review." We've seen this with children's apps turning into casinos.
  • Another claims apps from new developers don't get checked with as much scrutiny. They cited that one dating app was submitted from a new account with the ability to see exactly where a person was.
  • One source admitted to outright fraud, using photoshopped documents and McDonald's addresses to create innumerable new developer accounts. They said Apple doesn't bother checking if a company exists or not, and that a call is placed to see if a person picks up the phone.
  • One developer says their app would get rejected even as they were releasing clones that pass without issue.
  • Multiple accounts stated that app reviewers weren't even checking code, playing a game, or verifying information. It seemed that most apps are approved at random, and changing one letter in the code could sometimes be enough.

These various accounts are anonymous and can't be verified as accurate — and some are admissions of developer agreement terms if not outright fraud by the claimant. Some ring true, as similar complaints have been made before by folks that feel slighted by how the App Store works and its sometimes arcane mechanisms.

Scam apps, clones, and apps with illicit features are known problems on Apple's App Store. However, it seems app review is doing something right, as it is a much larger issue on Google Play Store despite what these accounts suggest.

Apple recently proved victorious against Epic Games in an extended antitrust lawsuit. The company says its victory proves the App Store promotes competition, drives innovation, and provides opportunities to developers.

The App Store certainly has its problems, and Apple sometimes oversteps.