Apple's new app rules tighten grip on China's tipping

Posted June 15, 2017

Apple removed the app, and several others Lin highlighted, after his post went viral, but the App Store is still rife with shady apps that use subscriptions and misleading descriptions to trick people into spending lots of money on junk apps.

Chinese app-developers argue that users are simply showing their appreciation by tipping the authors of articles or other content or service providers, but Apple believes tipping is just like buying a song or a piece of video.

The app in question was called "Mobile Protection: Clean & Security VPN" and was available on the US App Store for a quite remarkable price of $99 a week.

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As Johnny Lin noted in his blog, from April 20 - June 7 it was one of the top 10 grossing apps in the US App Store. First one is that it will be necessary for the apps to use the Apple-based review prompt using which users can rate the app without exiting it. Until Apple removes these scam apps and improves its app review policies, spread the word to make sure family and friends don't get ripped off!

Lin and Apple watcher John Gruber are asking how Apple let this app past its review process and are demanding Apple reconsider its App Store advertising system. The answer, apparently, is search ads. However, the companies keep 45% of the ad revenue and content creators get 55%. "It's downright mind boggling that this horrendous "Mobile protection:Clean & Security VPN" app made it all the way into the top 10 without getting flagged", he added.

The next hiccup is an in-app offer for a free antivirus trial that brings up Touch ID for verification that also initiates a seven-day auto-renewing subscription for $99.99 a week.

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Apple's App Store has a problem.

According to United States tech media TechCrunch, Apple's move could take tipping out of the grey area, and more app developers might institute digital tip jars as an alternative way to get creators paid without having to offer ad revenue sharing. Search ads ensure it earns the top spot when you search for terms like "qr scanner" or "qr code", giving it more visibility and, to some, credibility than its legitimate counterparts.

Fixing its subscriptions requires much more than banning some keywords, though. Upon downloading and executing the app, Lin said it requests access, or "cccess" to the user's contacts; the only option provided is to agree.

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The app exposes several problems with the App Store now.