Home / SmartTech / Virtual Phone Number Apps Play the App Store with Duplicates – TechCrunch

Virtual Phone Number Apps Play the App Store with Duplicates – TechCrunch

If you searched for an App on the App Store to get a second phone number, you might find that you have dozens of very small apps. A handful of companies spamming the App Store with duplicated apps. This strategy is against the rules of Apple .

The App Store Verification Policies contain detailed rules that determine what is and can not be done on the App Store. Once you sign up for a developer account and submit an app to the App Store review team, you agree to these rules. It's a long document, but Rule 4.3, entitled "Spam," is straightforward:

Do not create multiple bundle IDs from the same app. If your app has different versions for specific locations, sports teams, universities, etc., consider submitting a single app and deploying the variants using the in-app purchase. Also, avoid accumulating a category that is already saturated. There are already plenty of fart, burp, flashlight and Kama Sutra apps in the App Store. Spamming the store may cause you to be removed from the developer program.

A Tipster has looked at a specific category in the App Store ̵

1; VoIP apps that allow you to get a second phone number, send and receive calls and texts from this new number. I looked at this category myself and here are the results of my investigation.

Businesses are not even trying to hide the fact that multiple versions of the same app have been submitted with different names and symbols. However, the core features remain the same. Apple did not enforce its own policy properly, and the developers took advantage of this gray area.

Example 1: TextMe

As you can see on the company's website, TextMe currently runs and has three apps open – TextMe Up, TextMe, and FreeTone. These three apps have an average of 4.7 stars in the App Store with a total of hundreds of thousands of reviews.

The wording differs slightly for each app. With TextMe Up, you can call and send text messages from any mobile phone, tablet or computer from anywhere in the world. With TextMe you can "retrieve a new phone number, text and call for free" and FreeTone is all about "[enjoying]. Free calls and texts to phone numbers in the US and Canada. "

But if you look at the screenshots of the App Store, the company does not even bother to change the screenshots or the marketing copy.


"Our apps have a different marketing target," said TextMe, Inc. co-founder and co-CEO, Patrice Giami, in a telephone interview. "They share the same codebase, but we can enable or disable some features to distinguish the apps. We can do this depending on the competitive environment and whether we need to optimize sales.

Giami also believes that its company complies with the App Store guidelines. "Apple is doing a very systematic review – we're constantly being reviewed as we release numerous app updates. We've never been contacted or contacted by Apple – they never said that we're releasing full clones of the same app. "

TextMe uses the same developer account for its three apps, Text Me, Inc. Apple could easily compare those apps if they wanted.

Example 2: BinaryPattern and Flexible Numbers LLC

This case is something The company behind these apps has two different developer accounts and has tried to slightly differentiate its app store entries.Although the buttons and colors vary from app to app, the following features are the same.

Here are a few screenshots that I have taken:

SMS / Caller Telephone Burner

Smiley Private SMS SMS

[19659002] SMS Shield – Telephone Number

[19456501] Calls

Telephone for Management

I have I turned to BinaryPattern / Flexible Numbers and heard nothing. 19659006] Example 3: Appsverse Inc.

This time, Phoner, Second Line, and Text Burner have the same developer account. Although you can do the same with these apps, Appsverse has published its app in three different app store categories: utilities, productivity, and social networking.

As a result, the company's apps appear in several categories. Text Burner ranks 88th on social media, Second Line 74th, and productivity on Phoner 106th.

It seems a bit uninteresting because Appsverse breaks down their downloads into multiple apps. However, I think the main reason why the company publishes multiple apps is keyword optimization and search results in the App Store. It then picks a different category for each app, but it's a side effect.

Appsverse sent me the following statement:

"The policy promotes a healthy app store ecosystem suitable for both developers and users. It prevents the proliferation of similar apps that do not differ in business model, features, use cases, and demographic appeal. Example: Telos Mobile and Dingtone Inc.

On paper, Dingtone and Telos look like two different apps from two different companies , I downloaded the Dingtone app and signed in with my email address. I downloaded the Telos app and signed in with the same email address. Here is the message I received:

I have reached Telos / Dingtone and have not heard of it.

Equal Conditions of Competition

These companies have done nothing illegal. They used Apple's lack of understanding of an App Store rule. Publishing multiple versions of the same app is a great app store optimization strategy. This allows you to choose a different name, keywords, and categories. It's likely that potential customers will see your app in their App Store search results.

While Apple's app store policies are generally fairly strict, some have not been enforced. And that's unfair for app developers who stick to the rules. They can not compete so effectively with companies that know that they can ignore some rules.

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