Apple has come down heavily on iOS apps that were scamming users worth thousands of dollars via in-app subscription. Many scammy iOS apps tricked users into subscribing to them by showing a ‘Free Trial’ button, with a small fine print at the bottom detailing the subscription charges.
The initial Forbes report highlights Tiny Labs QR Code Reader app which charges its users $156 per year in subscription fees. The app and other such similar apps have been designed in such a way to trick users into unintentionally subscribing to their scammy app.
Most apps have a big ‘Start’ button to start the trial and only mention the subscription price in tiny fonts below it. This way, there’s a high probability that most unsuspecting users would miss it. And then as a final blow, when one taps the start trial button, they are instantly taken to the payment confirmation page which is a breeze thanks to Touch ID. Many users might unintentionally also approve the payment in their haste to quit the app and go back to the home screen.
Most of these scammy apps were generating revenues running into thousands of dollars per month and even featured on Apple’s Top Grossing Apps list on the App Store. Thanks to the recent media attention, Apple has removed most such apps and has even asked developers to mention the subscription price right beside the ‘Start’ or ‘Free Trial’ button in their app.
Ideally, Apple should have caught such scammy apps during its review process. Even when it missed them, these apps should have caught its editorial team attention when they started generating revenue running into thousands of dollars per month. Nonetheless, now that the issue has been highlighted, Apple has removed the majority of such scammy apps from the App Store.