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A.T. Faust III
| April 19, 2012
Misleading App Tops Charts, Highlights Apple's Inattention To Details
There's no other way to say it: Apple's management of the App Store just plain sucks. Don't get me wrong -- It's obviously the best and richest such mobile marketplace out there, but Apple's allowing it to be overrun on a near-daily basis by scammers, rule-breakers, outright fraud, and plain bad PR. It's basically been the theme of the year. From the weekly "Temple" ripoff to blatant IP theft to paid ranking schemes, the App Store is fast becoming a seedy, slimy, depressing game of chance. Just yesterday, we got wind of a Bluetooth switching app that directly defies Apple's own published dos and don'ts. Every reputable Apple blog covered it, but somehow, the thing's still available! And today, there's another bit of BS climbing up the iPhone charts. Sitting pretty as the number six paid app, Triple A Apps' Lock My Screen has a one-star average rating across more than 1000 reviews. Every commenter calls the app a scam, and even if it doesn't quite go that far, it appears to be intentionally misleading throughout its lengthy app description. Yes, there's a disclaimer. No, that's not good enough. [caption id="attachment_292942" align="aligncenter" width="693" caption="Them's A-Rod numbers right there!"][/caption] For the curious, Lock My Screen is an app that "helps you create a specialized unlock screens that increases security (sic)," and it includes
Over Twenty Types of Lock / Unlock Themes including: - Android-like "connect-the-dots" security - Voice Recognition - Fingerprint Scan - Traditional "Drag to Unlock" - Alpha-Numeric Password Protection - Bank Safe Lock Wheel - Digital Safe keypad. - Simple Tap unlock … And more! …In reality, the app offers no such utility and is only a collection of wallpapers you can assign to your iPhone's Lock Screen. Does it reality increase your iPhone's security? Psychologically, maybe. Physically, definitely not. In other words, it's a far more useless app than customers expect. [caption id="attachment_292943" align="aligncenter" width="925" caption="Triple A's other iPhone app says it best."][/caption] At worst, Lock My Screen is a purpose-built, gray-area thrift. At best, it's a great, big misunderstanding. I'm not saying the app should be removed or the developer banned, but there's just no way something like this -- something fueled by software sleight of hand -- should be featured anywhere on Apple's Top Charts. To allow it to remain in that lofty position is a disservice to Apple's customers. And the perpetrator is Apple itself. It's already clear that Cook and company no longer police app submissions with any comprehensive review process, but it's looking like management has also turned a blind eye towards moderating the App Store's chart-toppers. Whatever automated algorithm Apple has in place to establish quality app rankings simply isn't getting the job done, and these lists desperately need to be curated by human eyes and minds and morals. After all, the allure of Apple's ecosystem -- its so-called "walled garden" -- is that it's a safe, secure, and straightforward place to work and play. I fear that's no longer always the case. The App Store is still number one, but it's quickly moving in the wrong direction. And the really pitiful part is that this is such an easy thing to fix. I can't imagine it would take more than a few dedicated employees for each country's App Store. It's not rocket science. Heck, it's not even computer science.