Apple is cracking down on iOS apps that use a variety of underhand techniques to make money from unsuspecting users.
Tricks deployed include deceptive user interface elements designed to push people into inadvertently paying for subscriptions or services, and the promise of "free trials" that convert into a subscription within days. Some apps offer paid-for subscriptions despite functioning no differently from freely available alternatives.
An app called 'QR Code Reader', for example, is tricking users into a $156 per year paid subscription, raking in $5.3 million for its developer, making it the 220th top grossing app in the App Store.
Another app called 'Weather Alarms' has been employing sneaky tactics to trick users into pushing a button that will start a free trial or sign them up for $20/month subscription. The app has raked in more than $1 million in annual revenue, according to TechCrunch.
Because in-app purchases are paid-for via the payment details users have logged with Apple's App Store, many users won't know that they have subscribed for a service until payment is taken. Apple also takes a 30 per cent cut of all sales via the App Store.
While the company has yet to comment officially, 11 or the 17 apps mentioned in Forbes' article have already disappeared from the App Store - probably because Apple has removed them.
And, while it's taken until now to do so, the company's strict App Store guidelines have long warned that developers must clearly state their subscription terms and conditions.
"Apps that attempt to trick users into purchasing a subscription under false pretenses or engage in bait-and-switch practices will be removed from the App Store and you may be removed from the Apple Developer Program," the guidelines read.
Earlier this year, Apple also launched a crackdown against apps that share users' locations with third parties without their explicit consent.
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