Is Apple getting tough with scam apps with extortionate subscriptions?

It’s a long time coming.

We’ve been hearing over the last day or so that at least one developer has been on the wrong end of an App Store review rejection because their in-app purchases (IAP) were deemed unusually costly. It turns out that one of those, at least, was rejected in error. But the fact remains that the rejection did happen.

Does that mean that Apple really is getting tough with scam apps?

Now, it’s important to remember that not every in-app purchase is a scam, nor is every app with a subscription. I’ve been vocal on that front before. But you only need to take a look at the App Store and some of the apps aimed at kids to know there is some predatory IAP pricing going on. And a ton of that revolves around subscriptions.

The apps I’m talking about are the ones that try to charge you $9.99 or more per week for access to a coloring app. Or a similar price for what’s nothing more than a clone of Flappy Bird. The coloring space seems to be disproportionally affected here. And I’ve no idea why, other than unscrupulous developers praying on parents tapping through App Store dialog boxes to try and make little Timmy be quiet for at least the next five minutes.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

Which brings us to Apple’s apparent crackdown. Based on what we’re seeing on Twitter it appears App Store review is checking whether IAPs are priced at unusually high levels and then asking developers to justify themselves. In some cases, those justifications will be valid. Others, not so much. And that’s all gravy for us as users.

I know I’m hoping that this isn’t all a flash in the pan and I suspect legitimate developers will be, too. App Store rules are there for a reason and Apple needs to make sure that it holds developers to account. Some of those rules might not be popular and others are downright insane. But preventing users from being ripped off?

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that’s a very good rule indeed.

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