Apple settles lawsuit with developer over App Store rejections and scams – TechCrunch

One app developer lawsuit for the App Store denial, fraud and fraud ended up in a settlement after court filings prompted dismissal of the case earlier this summer. Plaintiff, app developer and former Pinterest engineer, Kosta Eleftheriou, has made a name for himself in recent months by pointing out some of the most egregious scams on the App Store. This then culminated in his own lawsuit against Apple, filed in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County in March 2021, where he alleges his own app was unfairly rejected from the App Store and subsequently targeted by scammers. consumption, resulting in loss of revenue.

This case is a prime example of developer dissatisfaction with Apple’s App Store business. Many developers have become dissatisfied with more than just Apple’s claim to pay commissions on their own sales – something Epic Games is currently suing — but also how the App Store model itself incentivizes scammers to take money and profit from the work of legitimate developers. But few take these matters to court, as Eleftheriou did.

His complaint alleges that Apple not only rejected his FlickType Apple Watch keyboard app from the App Store, but subsequently approved competitor keyboard apps and others that use it. version of the built-in FlickType keyboard for publishing to the App Store. This seems to be a contradiction Apple’s statement that the FlickType keyboard provides a “poor user experience”, as Apple’s own app review team green-lit similar technology, when integrated into other apps like Nano for Reddit, Chirp for Twitter , WatchChat for WhatsApp and Lens for Instagram.

Also, when the keyboard app was allowed back into the App Store, its early success made it a target for App Store scammers who launched less available competitors. due to fake ratings and reviews.

As a result, FlickType’s revenue fell from $130,000 in the first month to just $20,000 as consumers used “better-reviewed” alternatives, the developer said.

Follow filed the case last year, the two sides have engaged in court calls with a judge, the court found, including as recently as this spring. A request to dismiss the lawsuit was then filed on July 21, 2022, after Apple and Kpaw (Eleftheriou’s business) came to an agreement.

Eleftheriou could not comment on the terms of the agreement. Apple also could not be immediately reached for comment on the layoffs.

However, it’s hard to imagine that the developer would agree to dismiss the lawsuit if the terms weren’t at least somewhat acceptable, given his constant criticism of Apple’s App Store business. and the difficulties that developers face.

Last year, for example, Eleftheriou acted as a source for news stories about Scam on the App Store like one Crypto wallet app scam a user runs out of life savings (~$600,000); a children’s game contains a hidden online casino; and a VPN app scam its users out of 5 million dollars per year, among others. His findings were also raised in a series of questions in the process Senate Antitrust Hearing in April 2021, when Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer explained why Apple couldn’t identify these types of scams on its own, as they were “trivially easy to identify,” citing the work by Eleftherio.

More recently, the FTC highlighted fake App Store reviews as part of a larger action against rental platform Roomster, in its lawsuit filed this week – an indication that if Apple doesn’t act, it will.

While App Store reviews continue to be an issue, Apple has made some concessions regarding developer needs in the time since Eleftheriou’s lawsuit was filed.

Last fall, Apple has brought back the “Report a problem” button on the App Store, which invites the public to help them fight fraudulent applications. It also updated its App Store Guidelines last June to crack down on fraud and scams by promising to remove scammers from the Apple Developer Program.

However, more work still needs to be done, as app developers often have no choice but to post on Twitter or reach out to the media to resolve their complaints when a scammer is affect their business and revenue. That is recently the case with Authenticator app developer Kevin Archer, who detailed in a Twitter thread how he continues to deal with App Store signup scammers who have copied his legitimate apps then request a review during the rollout and push subscriptions to consumers at first launch.

While it may be customary to settle smaller lawsuits like Eleftheriou’s for a company the size of Apple, the attention they receive – not only among developers but also within the community the broader Apple consumer – not something Apple might want to manage at the moment. The company specifically wants to avoid negative public perceptions of its business at the time of the US Department of Justice. in the early stages of filing an antitrust lawsuit targeting Apple.

As for Eleftheriou, he hasn’t given up on app development, despite all these problems.

The developer says he’s currently working on an iPhone keyboard-related project, but has no further details to share at this time. Notably, his revised complaint mentions difficulties in building keyboard apps because Apple has never provided a developer API to request “Full Access” directly from keyboard. He also argued that Apple restricts third-party keyboards in areas such as available memory, ability to collect data to make better predictions, ability to be used in password fields and restrictions. display of visual elements above the keyboard, the complaint states.

Eleftheriou is yet to say what, if anything, has changed on this front and what his new app might solve.

He is also tracking scams. Use a software tool he built To identify App Store registration scams and frauds, Eleftheriou realizes that there is still more work to be done.

“Just the other day, I ran my phishing search again and was able to find some new scam apps within five minutes and this clearly affects users and developers, ‘ he noted.

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