Apple recently removed an app that not only blatantly copied Widgetsmith, a widget customization tool, but stole its name and was ranked higher on search results.
With iOS 14 came the introduction of home screen widgets. Many apps, however, don’t yet have widget-based features. That’s why David Smith’s new app Widgetsmith is seeing quite a bump in popularity, reads a new report from Daring Fireball. Widgetsmith is basically a widget construction kit:
It starts with a wide collection of highly customizable widgets, which range in function from date, to weather, to astronomy. Each can be adjusted precisely to best fit your desired function and appearance.
This set of widgets can then be dynamically scheduled to appear on your home screen following rules you define. For example, a particular widget could show the weather first thing in the morning, then your calendar during your work day, then switch to your Activity ring progress as you wrap up your day. This lets you take full advantage of each slot on your home screen.
The app has quickly jumped up to the number one spot on the App Store’s productivity list. However, with such popularity come the scammers, quickly building a ripoff version that reaches the top of a search list when searching for Widgetsmith, the actual name of the legitimate app:
And but so of course the ripoff scammers are already doing their thing, and the App Store is welcoming them. Search for “Widgetsmith” — the exact name of Smith’s app — and the first app in the results is not Widgetsmith but a name-alike ripoff called, I swear, “Widgetsmith – Color Widgets”. This utterly shameless ripoff, replete with a ham-fisted knockoff of the icon to boot, is listed above the actual Widgetsmith, despite the fact that the actual Widgetsmith is currently the #1 app in Productivity and has over 53,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews. The ripoff app has 25 5-star ratings, one 1-star rating, and one written review, which reads, verbatim, “Thank developer for making such great app especially for iOS 14!” The entire description of the ripoff app is written in similar broken English.
How did this app — a blatant, inferior ripoff — make it to the App Store, where it’s since reached number seven on the Entertainment list? Gruber notes that any Apple product search wouldn’t lead to a ripoff. It’s an interesting point, and Gruber also states that the App Store cannot be trusted if it constantly allows ripoff apps to reach a trending list.
“If Apple ran a food court like they run the App Store they’d let a McDowell’s open up two stores down from McDonald’s,” writes Gruber.
Additionally, how was this ripoff able to rank higher than the actual Widgetsmith in search results? “It’d be bad enough if “Widgetsmith – Ripoff Version” were listed after the actual Widgetsmith, but listed ahead of it? (And to be clear, the placement of “Widgetsmith – Ripoff Version” atop the results is not from paid search placement — those are a problem too, but they are marked as ads. This is not an ad.),” writes Gruber.
The case is just another strange story of a ripoff ad seeing unfair advantages for so apparent reason. That being said, check out Widgetsmith — it’s pretty cool.