Apple removes Pepe The Frog game from its App Store

Image Pepe Scream  Google Play

Based on recent findings by developer Johnny Lin, as described in an article on Medium, Apple has failed to adequately screen apps that not only are unsafe, but are scams, resulting in huge monthly charges.

Developer Johnny Lin drew attention to the app after noticing it had become a top earner despite it coming from a developer without a high reputation. One totally-legit-sounding app dubbed "Clean & Security VPN" has managed to generate $400/month per subscriber, despite it being an obvious scam that asks users to pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription for a supposed antivirus.

That particular app was questionably called "Mobile protection:Clean & Security VPN" and was ranked number 10 in the top grossing productivity apps section of the store.

Cook also told the developers that Apple has reduced the time it takes to approve each app for sale in their store to as little as 24 hours. 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!


It is important to note that Apple cracked down on unofficial tipping, which was a way around the 30 percent fee on in-app purchases by highlighting how the tips were donations rather than actual purchases. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app's revenue, which showed... Apple has since shut them down. But when we tried to release to the App Store, we got hit with "Your app contains images and references of Pepe the Frog, which are considered objectionable content". Many content providers give out their products for free, and rely on tips to create revenue.

"They're taking advantage of the fact that there's no filtering or approval process for ads, and that ads look nearly indistinguishable from real results, and some ads take up the entire search result's first page", wrote Lin. Ads display a small blue icon signifying an advertisement, but otherwise, they're almost indistinguishable from search results.

Fixing its subscriptions requires much more than banning some keywords, though.

The "malware scanning" app Lin spotted that aggressively pushes users to a $99.99 weekly subscription. Apple Music and iCloud subscriptions, plus third party subscriptions on the App Store, exceeded 165 million. "The App Store sandboxing rules mean that anti-virus software couldn't really do anything useful anyway".

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