Apple settles lawsuit over its App Store moderation and power

Apple settles lawsuit over its App Store moderation and power

App Store developer and reviewer Kosta Eleftheriou has settled his lawsuit with Apple, according to a report from TechCrunch. The suit, filed in March 2021, argued that Apple made it difficult for it to sell its app, Flicktype, on the App Store after it apparently lost interest in acquiring the technology.

The lawsuit alleges that Apple used its monopoly power as the maker of the iPhone and as the company in charge of the App Store to “crush” competing developers through “exploitative fees and selective enforcement of opaque and unreasonable restrictions.” ”. Eleftheriou also accused Apple of doing little to stop the wave of scam copycat apps that misled potential users of his app, a swipe-based keyboard for the Apple Watch. (This was, incidentally, just at the time that Apple and Epic were also arguing in court about how much power the iPhone maker should have over how software is distributed in iOS.)

The lawsuit, which you can read more about here, was dismissed at the request of Eleftheriou’s company, Kpaw, earlier this summer. Apple did not immediately respond to the edgerequest for comments on the agreement.

In an interview with the edgeEleftheriou said he could not comment on the deal or his feelings about it. However, he was able to offer some suggestions on what Apple could do to improve the App Store in the future. He said most of the suggestions my colleague Sean Hollister made last year in his article “Eight Things Apple Could Do to Show It Really Cares About App Store Users” were still on the table and would be a start. .

Of that list, which includes ramping up the app review team, making sure best-selling apps are on the upswing, and automatically reimbursing people who were scammed, Apple has actually made moves on two items since Eleftheriou filed her lawsuit. For one thing, it brought back the report button, which could help people who find obviously rogue apps. It also made changes to the auto-renewing subscriptions system, which both Sean and Eleftheriou suggested removing, with users being prompted to renew each time a payment is due. Now, Apple will allow subscriptions to automatically renew even if there was a small increase in price. (I didn’t say the company was moving in the direction we’d like to see.)

Eleftheriou also suggested that Apple could be more publicly transparent about why apps were removed. He said that when you visit an app store URL for an app that is no longer on the store, it should tell you why it was removed, whether it was because the developer removed it themselves or because it violated some rule like fake reviews.

Eleftheriou has been finding and pointing out egregious scams on the App Store (something he’s still doing, according to TechCrunch), and says this kind of move would help the public get a sense of how many scams were in store and how many were removed. While he doesn’t think Apple publishes its own statistics, he says the public pages that say why apps were removed could be pulled from data from companies that monitor the App Store, giving us a rough idea of ​​the prevalence of various apps. problems.

As a user, that kind of information would let me know how careful I should be when navigating apps. And while at first glance it doesn’t seem like there are many benefits to Apple, it could help the company show that it’s getting better at managing the App Store. As the threat of antitrust regulation mounts, especially around Apple’s role as the owner of the platform and the company that controls the store, that could be a valuable asset.

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