Apple appeared to take action against apps which reportedly tricked users into signing up for subscriptions, as several of the suspect titles disappeared from its App Store.
TechCrunch and Forbes reported some apps misled users by offering free downloads or trials which quickly converted into a full subscription in a matter of days.
Utilities apps, such as QR scanners and weather apps, were named as the most common culprits. For example, Tiny Lab’s QR Code Reader presented users with a big start button and easy-to-miss small print about charging them $3.99 a week.
If the user tapped start, they would be taken to an Apple payment confirmation screen. If they tried to exit the app by pressing the home button, they might instead trigger the fingerprint scanner, which the device would take to mean the user approved payment. Users may not always be aware of this.
TechCrunch noted opting out of subscriptions is not intuitive on Apple devices.
Weeding them out
However, Apple Insider reported 11 of the 17 apps which Forbes pointed out as troubling recently disappeared from the App Store, including QR Code Reader.
Apple’s guidelines state “apps that attempt to trick users into purchasing a subscription under false pretenses or engage in bait-and-switch practices will be removed from the App Store”.
Subscriptions made up $10.6 billion of consumer spend in the App Store last year and are set to grow to $76 billion by 2022.
Reports from earlier this year indicated Apple held an exclusive meeting with some developers last year, encouraging them to offer subscriptions rather than offer their apps for a one-off price.
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