It turns out that Apple’s Application Store is evil.
We all know that Apple individually reviews applications, and rejects those that it deems too risque for its brand, or those that compete directly with native applications, or those that make money for their owners without giving Apple a healthy cut.
This causes long lead times for those applications which users are anxious to download, and for critical updates to applications. It leads to censorship (which is generally unwelcome). It allows Apple to hold publishers over a barrel and force them into deals that can only be described as “unfair”, given that they depend wholly on Apple’s stranglehold over a large portion of the market.
Users put up with this, however, because the process gives us a more secure device that an open marketplace cannot guarantee as neatly. Apple’s App Store is also incredibly convenient for users of their devices.
One of the many applications available on Apple’s devices is called Talking Carl:
Here at the Big Bad Blog, we are fans of Talking Carl, an application for kids.
The application consists of two features:
- Talking Carl repeats what you say in a funny voice.
- Talking Carl reacts to being poked.
Maggie loves it when people make funny sounds. And she loves it when people repeat what she says. Repeating what she says in a funny voice? Could not be more awesome.
So imagine my surprise the other day when I open what should be Talking Carl and see instead Talking Carl Challenge:
Apparently the developer and publisher had a falling out, and the publisher pushed an “update” through Apple which changed Talking Carl into Talking Carl Challenge. This was dutifully approved by Apple’s App Store, despite the fact that, rather than an update, it was a complete decimation of the product.
Furthermore, Maggie swiped at the screen and this happened:
Seriously, people? This is on an application targeted at children too young to read. And they are permitted to click on things and buy them.
Luckily, I found the original Talking Carl application, from a new publisher. But this suffers from a similar problem:
Annoying, but at least they have also added a “Baby Mode”, which removes the crap. We are still uncertain why one would toggle “baby mode” off, on an application for babies, where the non-baby stuff is advertising. But there you have it.
And then we see that we have it lucky. Apple regularly approves children’s games that have large in-game costs without any safeguards to them. These, of course, rack up huge bills for the parents.
One is forced to wonder how Apple thinks that a game in which a child can spend $99(!) on safari animals is OK to approve, while claiming that a web browser should be restricted to those seventeen or older.
The hypocrisy is evident, given that Apple requires a 30% cut of all in-app purchases.
And the security we believed we were receiving? Gone.
There is a difference between a malicious Android application that steals our credit card information and racks up $1,000 in credit card charges and a kid’s game for an Apple device that surreptitiously fools our children into spending $1,000 without realising it as part of “game play”.
The difference is that Apple purports to protect us from such behaviour, while Google does not. And Apple profits from the malicious applications, where Google feels suitably embarrassed and nukes them from orbit.
Apple’s screening process is supposed to be a trade-off.
What we trade in is evident. What we receive in return is not.