'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
67 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
67 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
67 months ago
Really apple? You cant appeal lol. thats just wrong.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
67 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
67 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
67 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)

Related Stories

iphone holiday

Best Black Friday iPhone Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:58 am PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models in holidays past, and Black Friday 2021 is no different. Right now we're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like iPhone SE. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you...
airpods family holiday

Best Black Friday AirPods Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:04 am PST by
Black Friday 2021 deals are still going strong, and we're tracking the best deals across Apple's AirPods lineup. Throughout the week we've been sharing the best sales for Apple devices like iPhone, Mac, and iPad, so be sure to follow us on Twitter for all of the latest Black Friday sales Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a...
apple mixed reality headset mockup feature purple

Kuo: Apple AR Headset Coming in Late 2022 With Mac-Level Computing Power

Thursday November 25, 2021 8:32 pm PST by
Apple's long-rumored augmented reality (AR) headset project is set to bear its first fruit late next year with the launch of the first device carrying a pair of processors to support its high-end capabilities, according to a new research report from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. According to Kuo, the higher-end main processor is said to be similar to the M1 chip Apple...
apple watch cellular holiday

Best Black Friday Apple Watch Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:55 am PST by
The Apple Watch always makes a great gift around the holiday season, and for Black Friday 2021 we're tracking a few solid offers on numerous models of the Apple Watch. In this article, you'll find the best Black Friday sales on the new Apple Watch 7, but the best money-saving discounts will be found on older models like the Apple Watch Series 3 and SE. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Best Black Friday iPad Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:48 am PST by
Although Black Friday sales began as early as October in 2021, the shopping holiday is now officially underway and we're highlighting the best sales for each of Apple's product lines. In this article, you'll find the best Black Friday sales on iPad Pro and iPad mini. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a...
mac family holiday

Best Black Friday iMac and MacBook Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:29 am PST by
Our Black Friday 2021 coverage continues with the best deals you can find on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac mini today. As with all Black Friday deals, we aren't sure how long any of these will last, and prices are always fluctuating, so if you see something you want, be sure to buy it soon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and...
General black friday 20 sale feature

Huge List of Black Friday Deals on iPhone and Mac Cases, Cables, Accessories and Software

Friday November 26, 2021 5:09 am PST by
Black Friday is in full swing today, and in this article we're highlighting some of the best deals that you can find online among popular third-party accessory makers like Twelve South, Nomad, Satechi, and many more. Visit our Black Friday Roundup for a deeper dive into the best sales going on today. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and...
apple black friday shopping event 2021

Apple's Black Friday Promotion Now Underway in the U.S. and More Countries

Friday November 26, 2021 12:07 am PST by
Apple's annual four-day Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping event is now underway in the United States and select other countries, with customers able to receive a free Apple gift card with the purchase of select products through November 29. Participating countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany,...