Scam ‘A.I.’ Apps and Shady Developers in the App Store

Alex Kleber:

In the last 30 days, I have been closely monitoring the Mac App Store and have made a disturbing discovery. In the midst of the OpenAI frenzy, several apps have surfaced that are copying the iconic OpenAI logo and color scheme in order to mislead unsuspecting MacOS App Store users. But that’s not all — I also found that some developers are abusing Apple’s Developer Agreements by spamming multiple accounts and flooding the store with nearly identical applications. […]

Kleber notes these apps are paywalled with “no close button”. That is not quite true: in very small text, the developer offers the option to “Continue with free plan”, but it is highly misleading. This should be the sort of thing Apple polices against in the App Store. These apps ride a rising tide of interest in a specific product, they offer in-app purchases, and they appear to be duplicative.

These apps are all still available in the Mac App Store, by the way, and this is not the first time fake ChatGPT apps have climbed the charts. In fact, upon opening the App Store on my iPhone, the first thing I saw was an ad on the search page for an app which looks, at first glance, like an official OpenAI app — same colours, similar logo, and a description with a conspicuous use of the word “Open”. As of writing, it is the ninth most popular app in the Productivity category — and, yes, of course it offers paid subscriptions.