Developer and App Store reviewer Kosta Eleftheriou has settled his lawsuit with Apple, according to a report from TechCrunch. The lawsuit, filed in March 2021, argued that Apple was making it difficult for it to sell its app, Flicktype, in the App Store after it had seemingly lost interest in acquiring the technology.
The lawsuit alleged that Apple used its monopoly power as the maker of the iPhone and as the company responsible for the App Store to “crush” developers competing with it through “exploitative fees and selective application of opaque and unreasonable restrictions.” . Eleftheriou also accused Apple of doing little to stem the tide of copycat scam apps that tricked potential users of his app, a swipe-based keyboard for the Apple Watch. (By the way, this was around the time Apple and Epic were also fighting it out in court over how much power the iPhone maker should have over how software is distributed on iOS.)
The lawsuit, which you can read more about here, was dropped earlier this summer at the request of Eleftheriou’s company, Kpaw. Apple did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment on the settlement.
In an interview with The edgeEleftheriou said he could not comment on the settlement or his feelings about it. However, he was able to offer some suggestions on what Apple could do to improve the App Store in the future. He said that most of the suggestions my colleague Sean Hollister made last year in his article “Eight Things Apple Could Do to Prove It Really Cares App Store Users” are still on the table and would be a start. .
From that list, which includes expanding the App Review team, ensuring top-selling apps are on the rise, and automatically refunding people who have been scammed, Apple has done two things since Eleftheriou filed his lawsuit. First, it brought back the report button, which could help people who find obvious scamming apps. It also made changes to the auto-renewal system for subscriptions – which both Sean and Eleftheriou suggested should be removed, requiring users to renew every time a payment was due. Now Apple lets subscriptions automatically renew even if there was a small price increase. (I didn’t say the company was moving in the direction we’d like to see.)
Eleftheriou also suggested that Apple could be more publicly transparent about why apps were removed. He said that when you visit an App Store URL for an app that is no longer in the store, it should tell you why it was removed, whether it was because the developer removed it themselves, or because it violated a rule like that about false reviews.
Eleftheriou has been famous for finding and pointing out blatant scams in the App Store (something he still does, according to TechCrunch), and he says steps like this would help the public get an idea of how many scams were in the store and how many are being removed. While he doesn’t think Apple will release its own stats, he says public pages saying why apps were removed could be mined on data from companies that monitor the App Store, giving us a rough idea of how common various issues are.
As a user, that kind of information would let me know how careful I should be while browsing apps. And while at first glance it may seem like there isn’t much of a benefit to Apple, it could help the company prove it’s getting better at managing the App Store. As the threat of antitrust regulations mounts, especially around Apple’s role as both the platform owner and the company running the store, that could indeed be valuable.