Apple Removes Intego's 'VirusBarrier' From iOS App Store, Says It's Misleading
Apple appears to be cracking down on "anti-virus" apps in the iOS App Store, in an effort to prevent customers from believing iOS devices are capable of contracting viruses and malware. Intego, a company that produces anti-virus software for Mac and iOS, recently had its VirusBarrier iOS app pulled from the App Store.
VirusBarrier was an app designed to scan external files stored in the cloud or attached to emails, to detect viruses that might be sent on to vulnerable devices.
Intego CEO Jeff Erwin announced the removal of the app from the iOS App Store yesterday, and pointed towards a larger culling of all anti-virus apps available on Apple's platform. MacRumors spoke to Erwin this afternoon to shed some light on why Apple opted to remove VirusBarrier after four and a half years in the App Store.
According to Erwin, when Apple notified Intego of VirusBarrier's removal from the App Store, the company told him the app's App Store description was "misleading" and could potentially cause customers to believe that there are viruses on iOS.
Intego filed an appeal and rewrote the App Store description with "obnoxiously" clear wording, and that's when the company learned about a wider crackdown on anti-virus apps. "We were as clear as we could be that this wasn't a scanner, that it was scanning email attachments and cloud files," said Erwin. The company "went up to the executive level" at Apple and described exactly what VirusBarrier does, but Apple was firm on the app not returning to the App Store.
Apple, Erwin says, does not want people to be misled into believing that there are viruses on iOS, a position that he understands. Even with an App Store description that stated VirusBarrier scanned email attachments and cloud files, Intego would still receive negative comments from people who didn't read the description and didn't understand the app's purpose.
I sort of get Apple's point. Even as clear as we were about what our product did, there were still customers who were confused as to why the app was scanning their iPad or iPhone. There are a lot of people who don't have a tech background and don't understand.
Erwin does not believe that Apple was singling VirusBarrier out, as several other anti-virus apps have also been eliminated from the App Store. Instead, he sees it as a wider removal of the category and he doesn't fault Apple for the decision. "It's unfortunate, but I understand Apple's position," he said.
Erwin says that Intego's iOS app was not a big source of revenue for the company, and the loss won't hurt financially, but it was a way to get the Intego name out in the world and connect with customers. People who have previously downloaded the VirusBarrier app will continue to get virus updates, but won't be able to download new versions of the iOS app.
It is not clear when Apple began removing anti-virus apps or how many have been pulled from the App Store, but a search for "anti-virus" today primarily brings up games, privacy apps, and apps for finding lost phones. There are still a couple of apps that advertise virus-detecting capabilities like VirusDetector, but those few remaining apps may be removed from the App Store in the near future.