A month ago, we put together a list of eight obvious things Apple could do to prove that it puts App Store users above profit. Today I learned that the company has acted on at least one of these ideas: Apple will now allow you to directly report a fraudulent app from its listing in the App Store with a new and improved version of its button. ” To report a problem “.
As Richard mazkewich and scam hunter Kosta Eleftheriou on Twitter, the button not only returned to individual app listings for the first time in years, it now includes a dedicated “Report scam or fraud” option in the drop-down menu.
Until iOS 15, the only way to find this button was to scroll at the bottom from the Apps or Games tab of the App Store, you are taken to a website where you need to sign in again. Then you can choose from “Report suspicious activity”, “Report a quality problem”, “Request a refund” or “Find my content”. Neither option offered a clear way to report a scam, and the “Report Suspicious Activity” would instead redirect you to Apple Support.
To add insult to injury, Apple would only let you report a “quality problem” if you had already paid money (and therefore fell into the trap).
But now it seems like every free app with in-app purchases seems to offer the “Report a Problem” option. I checked out a handful of apps that I never paid for (but could have) and they all showed the button. You will still be kicked to a website where you need to log in, but overall it feels like a step forward.
Of course, the big question is whether Apple will actually take action on these reports. Another thing we highlighted last month is that Apple only has 500 human app reviewers, compared to 15,000 content moderators on Facebook, 20,000 at Google, and, yes, 2,200 on Twitter (a company far among the most valuable and profitable in the world).
Oddly, there may be movement on this front as well: Eleftheriou pointed out to me that Apple started hiring for an “ASI investigator” position on September 8. “ASI investigators are tasked with investigating fraudulent applications and trends, as well as the developers involved,” the job posting read.
Too bad the job offer no longer exists; it was withdrawn.
Perhaps, at the very least, Apple’s automated systems can use the new data to sound the alarm when a fraudulent app crosses a predefined threshold.
Apple definitely seems to be listening to the recent wave of anger around the App Store. In addition to a variety of small concessions forced as a result of legal and regulatory scrutiny, Apple has just started allowing users to review the company’s own apps that it bundles with every iPhone. Apple podcasts, weather, and even the built-in Calculator app are all fair games for angry 1-star reviewers. Immunity from user scrutiny may not be the most glaring benefit Apple has had in its own App Store, but it’s nice to see the company level the playing field a bit.
Here are the other suggestions we’ve had for the Apple App Store, and a brief history of significant policy changes Apple has made over the years. Yes, we keep track.