Home News Some App Developers Tricking Users into Subscription-Based iOS App Prices

Some App Developers Tricking Users into Subscription-Based iOS App Prices

Oct 21, 2018
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A new report was just released that is showing the tricks that are being utilized to get people on iOS to unwittingly sign up for subscription-based apps. The subscription-based apps are getting even more popular on iOS, especially when it comes to utilities.

You have to be careful on Apple’s App Store because some of these subscription-based app developers are employing tricky techniques to get you to sign up for the paid services. Read on to learn more about the trickery that is being used to get people to sign up for the subscription-based prices on iOS.

Subscription-Based Apps on iOS Often Tricking Users

The new report highlights how the subscription-based apps work to often times trick a user into the subscription pricing model. Most of the apps that were found to be tricking the users were those that are considered utility apps. Utility apps are often times free, but somehow manage to be a top-grossing app on Apple’s App Store. It is because of the subscription-based pricing that these free apps can become huge grossing apps on iOS.

One of the apps that was found to be slightly tricking users was called Scanner App. SensorTower released data showing that this app makes $14.3 million each year from the subscription revenue on iOS. You can download this app for free, but it will constantly pop up with a message asking you to pay the subscription-based pricing. This is anywhere from $4.99 per month to $4 per week depending on which subscription you want.

You can also start a free trial of Scanner app, but the free trial itself only will last three days. After those three days, you can then charged the subscription for the app itself. While the details of this are in the fine print, most people miss this information and end up paying for the subscription model of App Scanner.

That is often times where the trickery comes into play, because people are not understanding the agreement, not reading the agreement, or just assuming it will be a 30-day free trial like most other things. The reviews on this app in particular highlight just how many people feel that they were tricked into paying for the subscription-based model of the app.

Weather Alarms Worst Subscription-Based iOS App for Tricking People

While some apps definitely could be misleading users, such as the Scanner App, some apps are worse than others. The worst app for this trickery when it comes to the subscription-based pricing was an app called Weather Alarms. This app was so bad that Apple removed the app from the App Store after a report.

Dark Pattern is what was going on with this app, which is where you agree to the free trial, but then it will convert into the paid subscription-based model. The subscription itself was nearly $20 per month, which is expensive and caused many issues for those on iOS. Dark Pattern is where you can barely see the “X” to clsoe out the page, so they think there is no way to get out of the advertisement.

Of course, a lot of the subscription-based pricing issues on iOS are the fault of the user for not reading the agreements close enough. Even though people are at fault for not reading fine print, it is still a huge issue for the Apple App Store as a whole. It means the quality of the apps and the store itself is lessened with this behavior. App developers know these are easy scams to get through and Apple usually does not do anything about them. It does hurt Apple and Apple’s App Store because it creates distrust between the iOS user and the App Store.

Have You Been a Victim of a Subscription-Based Scam on iOS?

These are still considered scams in the eyes of many, even though some fine print on the charge after the trial period is persent. The user experience should be what Apple is trying to improve, and subscription-based pricing scams like this are making that experience worse. We want to hear from you in the comments below about what you think of these subscription-based pricing scams. Have you been a victim of one of these subscription-based pricing scams in the past?

Do you think that Apple should be doing more to remove the apps and ban developers who are engaging in these subscription-based scams? Subscription tactics like this are really nothing new, but it is become more of an issue as time goes on. App developers are seeing that most of the time Apple does nothing, and they are able to turn a huge profit at the expense of the user. What else would you like to see done to prevent issues like this from happening?