Apple promotes $676 per year scam ASMR slime apps in App Store

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple is reportedly promoting scam ASMR slime apps in its App Store.
  • A new App Store preview feature in Australia includes apps that trick users into subscriptions of more than $10 a week.
  • Furious users have taken to Twitter to complain, noting one app doesn't even do anything.

App Store users in Australia are furious at Apple's decision to promote scam ASMR slime apps in its App Store Preview page, including apps that don't seem to do anything and trick users into hefty weekly subscriptions.

As noted by Beau Nouvelle on Twitter, Apple is promoting 'Slime relaxation' apps on its App Store (apparently not for the first time):

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Apple's App Store Preview Page features a Slime Relaxations feature that says "Did you know that slime is therapeutic to play with? Kneading, poking and stretching that multi-coloured goo can elicit instant brain and body tingles, and a sense of bliss. The downside? This gets messy real fast- counterproductive to your goal of relaxation. That's where these apps come in."

A deeper dive into one of these apps by Twitter user Simeon notes Jelly: Slime simulator, ASMR.

In a scathing Twitter thread, Simeon notes that the first page of the app highlights a catch, a tiny piece of text in the bottom right-hand corner advertising that the app is $13 (Australian) a week, a staggering $676 AU per year. Downloading and installing the app shows three onboarding screens and then a paywall:

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The unlock button brings up Apple's in-app payment system that states you get a free three-day trial before the payments start. Again, this costs $676 a year. The app is a fairly simple scam that's used on the App Store and beyond in many subscription-based services, relying on a user forgetting to cancel their free trial. Despite warnings, users were not impressed:

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As a developer, Simeon went on to say the problem was infuriating because "as a developer who is not looking to scam people (I don't want your money accidentally" and someone who didn't want to charge "obscene amounts for trivial things", making it "hard for anyone to trust us and the App Store."

Speaking to iMore, Nouvelle told us the existence of apps like this on the App Store that are being featured by Apple felt like another punch in the face to developers who work hard to get their apps noticed. "It turns the App Store into a joke", Nouvelle said. "But for many of us, it's our livelihood. The active promotion of stuff like this is just proof that Apple's claims around App Store reviews being there for quality control and safety are just lies."

The existence and proliferation of scam apps in the App Store is an argument frequently used by Apple's critics, as it seems to undermine Apple's arguments that having a single iOS App Store is the best way to protect consumers from malicious activity. Apple's own figures claim it prevented $1.5 billion in fraud on its App Store last year, rejecting 2 million submissions including 150,000 spam and copycat apps.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9