'Dash' App Removed From App Store for Alleged Review Manipulation

Popular API documentation browser Dash was yesterday pulled from the App Store after a routine migration request. Dash developer Bogdan Popescu was given no explanation for why the app had been pulled aside from "fraudulent conduct," but after a conversation with Apple, he's been accused of manipulating App Store reviews.

Popescu received a "Notice of Termination" email yesterday and his iTunes Connect account was shut down. Apple initially declined to offer more information, but after Dash's App Store removal started making headlines, Apple told Popescu it was due to App Store review manipulation, such as paying for positive reviews, something he denies doing.

dashapp

Update: Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I've never done.

Apple's decision is final and can't be appealed.

Despite Popescu's denial, Apple appears to be adamant that some sort of fraud took place. Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller has stepped in and commented on the situation, through an email sent to Matthew Els, who asked him about the situation.

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for your email about this app.

I did look into this situation when I read about it today. I am told this app was removed due to repeated fraudulent activity.

We often terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers.

I hope that you understand the importance of protecting the App Store from repeated fraudulent activity.

Thank you,
Phil

At this time, Popescu says that Apple's decision is final and the app will not be returned to the App Store. The developer community seems to be surprised by the accusation, with many calling Dash a quality app that wouldn't have needed to boost its reviews.

It's not clear what's going on, and the App Store reviews for Dash are no longer visible as the app has been pulled. As developer Steven Troughton-Smith points out, if Popescu didn't manipulate his own reviews, it's possible he's been targeted maliciously by a third party or that Apple's flagging system made a mistake. With Apple's Phil Schiller having looked into the situation, the latter option seems unlikely.

Dash for Mac remains available outside of the Mac App Store, and Popescu is encouraging Dash for Mac users to migrate from the Mac App Store version. It is unclear if the iOS version will be reinstated.

Top Rated Comments

bitslap47 Avatar
63 months ago
Hmm... so if I hire a 3rd party to post fake reviews to a competitor's app.......
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rafterman Avatar
63 months ago
"Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed."

That is the particularly BS part of all this. Third Reich much?

But Apple cancels orders for no reason, so why not developer accounts.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zaft Avatar
63 months ago
Really apple? You cant appeal lol. thats just wrong.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
63 months ago
Hmm...for an app that's so generally well regarded in the developer community, I really don't think this would have been a whimsical decision by Apple.

Especially if Phil looked into this personally, he'd have known the media fallout and confusion from this. Plus I don't just think it's a case of a competitor hiring fake reviews on his app — Apple would definitely have considered and looked into that.

Now, the email from Phil said: "including actions designed to hurt other developers". What if we're looking at this the wrong way? What if he was hiring bots to spam bad reviews on competitors' products?

There's something they're not telling us. The more I think about it, the more of a mystery it's becoming.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cougarcat Avatar
63 months ago
Apple's kafkaesque communication to developers remains one of its biggest problems.
[doublepost=1475777722][/doublepost]
"Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed."

That is the particularly BS part of all this.
Especially when we're talking about developer livelihoods.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nagromme Avatar
63 months ago
Speculation: maybe they used a bulk review/rating service, or a marketing service that includes that, and then when Apple was able to detect that kind of bulk, all of that service's clients got canned? (Probably not just this one.)

Review spam and fake ratings are certainly a huge problem for App Store users, and I am not 100% certain that second chances are the way to go: then it's "may as well try the spam, no harm done if we're caught!" It's not as if there haven't been warnings against this for years.

Now, IF it's a straight-up error and this company never used ANY such methods, I hope the error is corrected (as Apple generally does with their review/removal errors, though the remedy gets less blog attention than the initial Godwin's Law hysteria). Seems like a worthwhile app that need not game the system, and Apple can have a stated "no second chance" policy, but they can ALSO bend their decisions when called for. It happens.

And if some fraudulent marketing company tricked this developer into not knowing what they were signing up to receive, I hope the dev can make a legal case against them.

Similarly, if an attacker is behind this, taking actions PRETENDING to be this dev, I hope that comes to light (and it probably will, because this won't be the only victim). I find that sadly plausible.

We may never know the facts. Won't stop us jumping to conclusions :)
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature

Unreleased Apple Macs and Apple Watches Listed in Eurasian Database Ahead of Fall Product Launches

Monday August 2, 2021 9:34 am PDT by
Apple is preparing for a slew of fall product launches according to new filings that showed up today in the Eurasian Economic Commission database. There are listings for new Mac and Apple Watch models, all of which have previously unknown model identifiers that indicate that they're upcoming devices. There are six new Apple Watch identifiers, including A2473, A2474, A2475, A2476, A2477, and...
ifixit iphone12 mini

Apple to Make Space for Larger Batteries in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks By Adopting Slimmer Peripheral Chips

Monday August 2, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
For future iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, Apple plans to use smaller internal components in an effort to increase the size of the device's battery, according to DigiTimes. Image Credit: iFixit Specifically, Apple plans to "significantly increase the adoption" of IPDs or integrated passive devices for the peripheral chips in its products. These news chips will be slimmer in size and allow for...
Apple watch series 5 new case material made of titanium 091019

Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 Models Currently Widely Unavailable

Sunday August 1, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Models of the Apple Watch Series 6 with titanium cases part of the "Apple Watch Edition" collection is currently widely unavailable for pick-up in several of Apple's retail stores in the United States and is unavailable entirely for delivery in major markets. Noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, titanium models of the Apple Watch Series 6,...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
magic keyboard touch id

Apple Makes Magic Keyboard With Touch ID Available for Separate Purchase

Tuesday August 3, 2021 5:22 am PDT by
Apple has made the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which previously was only available with the purchase of the new 24-inch iMac, available for purchase individually for $149. Apple also retails the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a numeric keypad for $179. A standard Magic Keyboard without Touch ID or a numeric keypad is available for $99, and a new Magic Trackpad for $129. One major...
themorningshowcarrell

Apple Decided Not to Buy Reese Witherspoon's 'Hello Sunshine' Media Company

Monday August 2, 2021 2:02 pm PDT by
Reese Witherspoon's media company "Hello Sunshine" recently courted various buyers, and while Apple was one of parties interested in buying Hello Sunshine, the Cupertino company did not end up going through with the purchase. Hello Sunshine was valued at around $900 million thanks to its involvement in popular series like The Morning Show," "Big Little Lies," and "Little Fires Everywhere,"...
COVID19 Digital Wallet Apple Wallet

Australian Government Now Offering COVID-19 Digital Vaccination Certificates for Apple Wallet

Monday August 2, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
The Australian government has introduced support for adding COVID-19 vaccination digital certificates to Apple Wallet via the Express Plus Medicare app on iOS. Image credit: Tap Down Under As spotted by Tap Down Under, users who have received two doses of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine now have access to the digital certificate through their Medicare online account or via the Medica...
mac pro new graphics

Apple Introduces New High-End Graphics Options for Mac Pro

Tuesday August 3, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Apple today began offering new high-end graphics upgrade options for both the tower and rack versions of the Mac Pro desktop computer. This comes on the same day that Apple started selling the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID on a standalone basis. As noted by CNN Underscored's Jake Krol, the Mac Pro can now be configured with new AMD Radeon Pro W6800X, W6800X Duo, or W6900X graphics when...