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Apple’s latest update gives users an easy way to report scams in the App Store

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Apple App Store en prueba (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Apple App Store en prueba (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Apple has updated its App Store with a new Report a Problem button allowing users to highlight when software on its platform is flawed or contains a scam.

The button includes a dedicated “Report a scam or fraud” option in the drop-down menu, making it easier to raise concerns. Previously, users had to scroll to the bottom of the Apps or Games tab in the App Store and go through multiple menus to make a report – or be redirected to Apple Support.

The change, which is being rolled out to the new version of iOS 15, comes after numerous reports of scam software on iPhones and iPads via the App Store, despite the company’s reputation for privacy.

In April, for instance, a secret casino game was found hidden in an endless runner game designed for children.

If opened by a user in the US, the app would launch the game, but when the player used a VPN to change their location to Turkey and relaunched the app, the casino would appear.

While moderation policies of large technology companies have been oft criticised, many competitors employ a much greater number of human reviewers than Apple does for its App Store.

Both Apple’s App Store moderation policies were, recently called into question during the iPhone giant’s dispute with Epic Games, which helped reveal that there are only 500 people working to review approximately 100,000 apps every week.

Documents revealed as part of the company’s antitrust case quoted Eric Friedman, head of Apple’s Fraud Engineering Algorithms and Risk (Fear) unit, saying that the review process is “more like the pretty lady who greets you ... at the Hawaiian airport than the drug-sniffing dog”. He added that Apple was ill-equipped to “deflect sophisticated attackers”.

In response, Apple claimed that its marketplace is “significantly safer” than Android, and cited data from 2018 showing that the iPhone platform “accounted for just 0.85 per cent of malware infections” compared to Android.

It is unclear what the process is when an app is reported via this button, or whether Apple is expanding its team of human reviewers in the light of this change. Apple did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment before time of publication.

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