Apps that copy concepts and functionality from other apps are nothing new. But, here, we are talking about applications that are perfect copies.
It’s not just Android that is affected by scams and other malicious applications. The App Store is affected by a mechanism described in detail on Twitter by an independent developer. In summary: many applications end up being cloned, they can then deceive users.
Attack of the Clones (on the App Store)
Technically, Apple can’t see where the trick lies when developers submit their apps to the App Store. These applications respect the rules of the App Store, at least on the face of it. However, these are clones, that is to say applications copied from other original applications already available. Everything is copied, the colors can be changed, but the interfaces are very similar as you can see in the example below. This is Kevin Archer, an independent iOS developer, who sheds light on this fraudulent practice. He had already reassembled it in February, but things still haven’t changed.
They copied our entire app @AuthWidget. It’s literally a copy-paste, even pretending to have the same features as we do, but their app doesn’t support Apple Watch and even Widget. Such a cheap imitation. pic.twitter.com/zsDt9FAJXr
— Kevin Archer (@IM_Kevin_Archer) February 19, 2022
Kevin Archer, affected by this problem on one of his applications, claims that the fraudulent application not only copied verbatim the illustrations and the text of his application, but that it also left references to authentic features of his application. app that the clone app does not include. So we end up with in-app purchases, without being able to take advantage of the features offered. It is not only a scam for the developers but also for the users.
A recurring problem on the App Store
It is possible to contact Apple to notify them and have the clone applications dereferenced, however the request takes time to be processed. Sometimes it takes several weeks to receive a response.
The problem of fraudulent iOS apps is an old one. In 2012, it turns out that Apple’s Phil Schiller was absolutely furious when a fake app shot to the top of the App Store ranking, according to documents shared in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit.
Last year, Apple was sued by developer Kosta Eleftheriou over this exact issue. Apple is facing a similar lawsuit with the creators of PUBG Mobile. More recently, the Wordle game became the latest victim of the App Store problem. Wordle clones popped up on the App Store as the game grew in popularity.
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