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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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135854-ios_offer_wall.jpg


In a pair of reports yesterday and today, Inside Mobile Apps reveals that Apple has apparently made a shift in enforcement of its App Store rules, changing the way it ranks applications to include more than simple download numbers and rejecting applications that take advantage of so-called "offer wall" services that reward users with virtual currency or credits for installing other applications. The idea is a practice that developers have been increasingly turning to in order to boost their applications into Apple's charts of top apps.

The first report, issued yesterday, reveals that Apple has indeed made changes to its rankings. The changes were first noticed by mobile ad networks and offer wall companies.
"We've been noticing changes in the Top Free rankings for at least three days now," said Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry, which serves 80,000 applications with its analytics product. "From our point of view, Apple is absolutely considering more than just downloads, which we believe is the right direction to go in to measure the true popularity of an app." Other pay-per-install networks tell us they've been detecting these changes too.

While it's too early to tell exactly what the new weights are, a reasonable hypothesis would be that Apple is considering factors such as active usage. But we'll keep talking to top developers and ad networks to learn more as we go.
In a follow-up report today, Inside Mobile Apps notes that Apple has begun rejecting offer wall apps entirely, citing a clause in its App rules that prohibits developers from manipulating user reviews and chart rankings.
Developers began receiving rejection notices for dozens of apps late last week and yesterday, saying that they are prohibited from having offer walls. Apple looks like it is changing the interpretation of clause 3.10 in its developer agreement, which says, "Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program." It's uncertain what will happen to the thousands of apps that have already been approved and have offer walls.
Companies such as Tapjoy that provide offer wall services for developers are of course defending their practices, pitching them as all-around wins for advertisers, developers and users to help target advertising, boost app installs, and earn free content for users. These firms appear to have been caught off-guard by Apple's sudden shift, and it remains to be seen how things will play out.

Article Link: Apple Cracking Down on 'Offer Walls' for iOS Apps
 

BruiserB

macrumors 68000
Aug 9, 2008
1,668
617
I don't understand how this works?? How do the developers know that you downloaded the free app to get whatever they are offering? Are the AppleIDs of purchasers passed on to the developers?
 

antoniogaud

macrumors newbie
Apr 4, 2011
2
0
Count me in

I'm a developer and I totally support apple on this. It's hard enough to make a great app that can compete with other great apps without offer walls mucking up the process.

I applaud the offer wall types for coming up with a innovative system for upping downloads of their games, but enough of it.
 

PlutoPrime

macrumors regular
Oct 15, 2009
130
311
Fantastic news. So many companies are pouring all their development resources on coming up with ways to game the charts instead of focusing on quality, engaging products.

I feel like apple just sprayed the lawn with some potent weed killer. Kudos.
 

Consultant

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,313
33
Never seen one of those before on iPhone or iPad. But good to see Apple cracking down on these junkware.
 

RKpro

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2008
467
1
Good. I hate these too. They're annoying to the user, and they're bumping up crap apps in the store.
 

dampfnudel

macrumors 68040
Aug 14, 2010
3,424
1,600
Brooklyn, NY
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

It's about time. I'm getting tired of that intrusive offer in Frogs that if I download some crappy app, I'll get a free frog. Some developers need to realize that the App Store may not be their road to riches and trying to hustle us won't help their situation.
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,055
162
Canada, eh?
I thought this was about Facebook walls. I'm an idiot.

No, but Facebook is starting to go down this road too, and it's annoying. You'll get a notification like "Joe has written something about you! Click here to see whether it was naughty or nice!" and when you click, you're told that you can reveal what Joe wrote... for 500 points. How do you get points? Install this app, or that app, or post something on all your friends' walls, or...

Glad Apple is taking steps toward cracking down on juvenile app developers.
 

Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
3,975
1,170
I don't understand how this works?? How do the developers know that you downloaded the free app to get whatever they are offering? Are the AppleIDs of purchasers passed on to the developers?

Devs can't get at the apple IDs, but they can use the unique device ID and have the free app pass it along to their servers. I do believe it is also possible to detect apps on your phone. For example, see how the WoW mobile armory can automatically detect an authenticator and use it to login to your battle.net account.
 

davedelong

macrumors member
Sep 9, 2007
50
0
Right here.
I don't understand how this works?? How do the developers know that you downloaded the free app to get whatever they are offering? Are the AppleIDs of purchasers passed on to the developers?

Apps can register a custom URL handler, like "I can handle URLs that start with myapp://". Then another app can ask the system "hey, is there anybody that knows how to open a myapp:// URL?" If the system says "Yes, there is", then you know the application is installed.

So basically, all of these crapwares are registering custom URL schemes like "crapware3000://", and these "offer wall" apps can then know if the other apps are installed by seeing if these custom URLs are openable.
 

dampfnudel

macrumors 68040
Aug 14, 2010
3,424
1,600
Brooklyn, NY
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

If that's true about FB starting to do the offer walls thing as well, FB probably has jumped the shark or is close to it.
 

0815

macrumors 68000
Jul 9, 2010
1,776
1,018
here and there but not over there
No, but Facebook is starting to go down this road too, and it's annoying. You'll get a notification like "Joe has written something about you! Click here to see whether it was naughty or nice!" and when you click, you're told that you can reveal what Joe wrote... for 500 points. How do you get points? Install this app, or that app, or post something on all your friends' walls, or...

Glad Apple is taking steps toward cracking down on juvenile app developers.

OT: Glad I left facebook long time ago
 

mrial

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2007
133
6
Saint Paul, MN
"Friendly" app for the iPad was at the top of the charts for a week even though it was getting virtually 100% horrible, one star reviews. What was happening was the app was locking into a "black screen of death" and people were RELOADING the app driving it to the top. I wish Apple would fix that.
 

SlowTuna

macrumors newbie
May 31, 2010
10
0
Will this take care of the devs that update their apps and game the reviews to buy their way up the charts like the fake Phone Tracker apps that somehow manage to stay in the top 50 despite 1 star reviews?
 

T-Will

macrumors 65816
Sep 8, 2008
1,031
409
PingChat recently implemented this to remove ads for various time periods (depending on the downloaded app). I'd prefer to pay $.99 or even $1.99 to remove the ads, but using the adwall isn't really an issue for me since I only need to go through the actions once every few months.
 

Ljohnson72

macrumors 6502a
Dec 21, 2008
733
2
Denver, Co
I liked it for some games to be honest. I would rather download another app than pay to get more of a game's currency or what have you. I do think that uses this method to increase ranking in the App Store is bad however.
 

marksman

macrumors 603
Jun 4, 2007
5,764
5
I am in support of this change. I played some games in the past that did this and I got the benefits, but I always thought it was cheesy.

It is clearly intended to just manipulate the rankings, so I am fine with Apple putting the el stopo on it.
 

Blakjack

macrumors 68000
Jun 23, 2009
1,800
311
Thank God. I hate that crap and Im for anything that will help me see the Apps that are popular because they are actually good apps.
 

seamer

macrumors 6502
Jul 24, 2009
426
164
I, for one, applaud our Apple overlords.

For me, there's a small difference between in-app purchases and wholesale "you must in-app purchase a dozen different items to progress."
 
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