Misleading Subscriptions Become a Common App Store Problem

Much is said about the model of signatures that took over the App store and from basically every major app store in the world. Some people like the idea of ​​paying a monthly (usually very low) fee to use their favorite services and apps; There are also those who prefer the older model of making a (larger) one-time payment so they never worry about fees and charges. Both logic are valid and each App Store seller has the right to choose the model that is most advantageous according to their product.

The problem is when some malicious developers take advantage of the subscription structure to mislead consumers by pushing almost imperceptible charges or making intrusive advertisements for users to spend money on the plans in question. And unfortunately, as the TechCrunch In this report, the unpleasant phenomenon is increasingly common.

The subject brought up several examples of applications that use confusing phrasing, insistent and / or intrusive interface elements, and other aspects that make users' lives more difficult and sometimes try to take away. Many exchanged from unsuspecting consumers.

In one example, an application called App Scanner raises absurd $ 14.3 million a year; It has a trial period that lasts only three days (detail that is put in the terms of use of the app, but nowhere near the most visible) and then begins to charge the subscription of users.

Another app, the QR Code Reader, invites users to enter a free trial period to, just three days later, start charging a ridiculous $ 156 annual subscription for a feature, it is worth remembering, that is already native on iOS 12. Perhaps its creators have reached the mark of $ 5.3 million in annual revenue.

Want another example? Just see the app Weather Alarmswhich opens a popup speaking of your testing period. The close button only appears after a few seconds, basically disguised in the midst of clouds so that (almost) no one notices it and thinks that the only way out is by trial which, as usual, will start charging your card within a few days.

That Dark pattern the best (stolen from full screen ads). The close button pops up after a few seconds, so people don't see that they have a way out of the page. Look at the upper left corner of the registration page.

It's not so hard to find apps like this: just open the most profitable list in the store, move from initial positions (made up of the old acquaintances Netflix, Spotify and company) and take a look at the dozens of apps in the “utilities” category listed below. It is precisely the applications in this segment that have most frequently implemented exploit tactics.

Fortunately, Apple seems to be aware of the problem and acting to curb it. As reported by AppleInsider, the company removed from the store several of the apps cited by TechCrunch in the report, including two of the above (QR Code Reader is still live for now).

Still, be warned: every time you download an app, keep an eye out for behavior and possible tactics to hook you for a subscription without your full consent should something become apparent, get rid of the software immediately and look for an alternative. most honest.

To cancel existing subscriptions, you must go to Settings, tap their name and tap “iTunes and App Store”. By tapping your Apple ID at the top of the screen, select the "View Apple ID" option and tap "Subscriptions" to cancel or manage anything you want. Yes, a much more hidden area than it should be and Apple is expected to make this process simpler in future versions of the system, but for now, what we have.