Kosta Eleftheriou

Apple has settled a lawsuit concerning its App Store moderation and power.

Kosta Eleftheriou continues to make suggestions on how to deal with scams.

According to TechCrunch, developer and App Store critic Kosta Eleftheriou has settled his lawsuit with Apple. The March 2021 lawsuit claimed that Apple made it difficult for him to sell his app, Flicktype, on the App Store after it appeared to lose interest in acquiring the technology.

According to the lawsuit, Apple used its monopoly power as the maker of the iPhone and as the company in charge of the App Store to “crush” developers competing with it by charging “exploitive fees and selectively applying opaque and unreasonable constraints.” Eleftheriou also accused Apple of doing little to stem the tide of fake apps that duped potential users of his app, a swipe-based keyboard for the Apple Watch. (This was also around the time when Apple and Epic were fighting in court over how much control the iPhone maker should have over how software is distributed on iOS.)

The lawsuit, which you can read about here, was dismissed earlier this summer at the request of Eleftheriou’s company, Kpaw. Apple did not respond immediately to The Verge’s request for comment on the settlement.

Eleftheriou told The Verge that he couldn’t comment on the settlement or his feelings about it. He was, however, able to make some suggestions for how Apple could improve the App Store in the future. He stated that the majority of the suggestions made by my colleague Sean Hollister in his article “Eight Things Apple Could Do to Prove It Really Cares About App Store Users” last year were still on the table and would be a good start.

Apple has made progress on two of those items since Eleftheriou filed his lawsuit, including beefing up the App Review team, ensuring the top selling apps are in good standing, and automatically refunding people who have been scammed. For one thing, it reinstated the report button, which may be useful for people who come across obviously fraudulent apps. It’s also changed the auto-renew subscription system, which Sean and Eleftheriou both suggested should be removed, with users prompted to renew whenever a payment was due. Apple will now allow subscriptions to automatically renew even if there is a minor price increase. (I didn’t say the company was heading in the right direction.)

Eleftheriou also suggested that Apple be more forthcoming about why apps were removed. He claims that if you go to an App Store URL for a defunct app, it should tell you why it was removed, whether it was because the developer removed it themselves or because it violated some rule, such as the one against fake reviews.

Eleftheriou is well-known for discovering and reporting egregious scams on the App Store (which he continues to do, according to TechCrunch), and he believes that this type of move will help the public understand how many scams are on the store and how many are removed. While he does not believe Apple will release its own statistics, he believes that public pages that explain why apps were removed could be mined for data from companies that monitor the App Store, giving us a rough idea of how common various issues are.

As a user, this type of information would inform me about how cautious I should be when browsing apps. While it may appear that there isn’t much benefit to Apple at first glance, it could help the company demonstrate that it’s getting better at stewarding the App Store. As the threat of antitrust regulation grows, particularly in light of Apple’s role as both platform owner and store owner, that could be a valuable asset.