Scam apps hunter/developer Kosta Eleftheriou, comprehended for catching blatant scams that make it past Apple’s review process, has again brought attention to a new crop of shady apps being peddled through the App Store.
This time they’re on the Mac. They’re using pop-ups that make it excessively difficult to quit an app without agreeing to excessive subscription prices — all without Apple detecting, despite its argument that its App Review procedure keeps devices and users safe.
The app that began the hunt, which seems to have been uncovered by Edoardo Vacchi, is called My Metronome. Eleftheriou, and user reviews, the app closes up and won’t allow you to quit it by employing keyboard shortcuts or the menu bar until you endorse a $9.99-a-month subscription.
Eleftheriou said that it “seems like this developer has experimented with various techniques over the years of preventing people from closing the paywall,” pointing us to several other apps that are still on the store with similar behavior — we’ll get to those in a moment.
Sometime after Eleftheriou twittered about My Metronome, the app was seemingly withdrawn from the store. Trying to unlock the link pops up with a message saying it’s no longer open in my region. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether it was the one to handle the app down or how it handed App Review in the first place.
The story doesn’t end there, though. As developer Jeff Johnson discovered, the company that made the metronome app, Music Paradise, LLC, has a link to another App Store developer, Groove Vibes. Moreover, the privacy policies listed on both developers’ websites say they’re registered at the same address, and both cite the same legal entity, Akadem GmbH.
It was fired up the Music Paradise Player, Mac App Store, and downloaded Music Paradise’s other app, along with Groove Vibes’ entire catalog of Mac apps.
Unfortunately, they all had an immediate pop-up asking for money in the form of a recurring subscription. On the other hand, three of Groove Vibes’ apps worked appropriately — you could quit them with the menu bar or pressing Command+Q.
However, two apps from the developer with Music Paradise Player greyed out the quit option on the menu bar and didn’t let you press the standard red close button. Keyboard shortcuts were no help either; they abode open even while you get spammed Command+Q, Command+W, and the escape button.
The apps don’t lock you out of your computer like the ransomware that often drives the news, as there are other ways to approach them even if you don’t know how to propel quit. For example, music Paradise Player has an “X” button on its offer screen, and once you press it, the subscription screen goes away, and you can leave the app usually.
FX Tool Box has a small “Maybe Later” button that does the same thing. All To MP3 Converter has a similar “just let me into the app so I can close it” button, but it is by far the worst offender when it comes to hiding it. Instead, it’s a piece of text that says “continue with the limited edition,” nestled between other pieces of text, without any obvious sign that it’s a link.