Rogue heart rate app with $90 in-app purchase highlights flaws in Apple’s App Store review process

“Today, multiple media outlets brought attention to a malicious ‘heart rate’ scanning app that attempted to dupe wide-eyed shoppers into buying a $90 in-app purchase, which highlights that Apple still needs to do a lot more work on the app review process,” Andrew O’Hara writes for AppleInsider.

“The entire app is fraudulent and purports to read a users heart rate by having them place their finger on the Touch ID sensor,” O’Hara writes. “In actuality, after a second or so of random ‘heart rate’ values flashing on the screen, the app dims the screen to its minimum brightness and invokes an in-app purchase for $89.99.”

“It is obvious this app should have never made it past the review process, not even looking at the substantial cost of the in-app purchase, considering that it is impossible for your iPhone to actually read your heart rate through the Touch ID sensor. The scam is even more obvious when used on a newer device that relies on Face ID When I ran the app on our iPhone XS Max — which lacks Touch ID — the app still claimed to show me my heart rate.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: To call Apple’s App Store reviews a “process” demeans the word. It certainly comes across as poorly staffed and/or badly automated and the results are a lot more random than any process we’ve seen.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “TJ” for the heads up.]


  1. Everyone wants to blame everything on Tim Cook. I agree with the comment above — how about the gullibility of those buyers (maybe that’s too kind of a description)? Where is their responsibility in this?

  2. OH – MY – GAWD!!! Yet again, Apple fails to maintain 100% perfection on every tiny detail of the largest company in the world.

    And again – Babbling Tinkle – I remind you… there are plenty of other phones, computers and stocks. There is NO reason for you to stick around, beating your head against a brick wall. Well… sorry… there is, of course, the possible reason of psychiatric problems.
    #whinylittlebitch #hatebois #troll

  3. Apple is dissed for its “walled garden” and also dissed when its walled garden review process fails to block an app. Apple is being sued for “inflating” the cost of apps despite the fact that it does not set the prices of apps – it just charges a service fee percentage. Now Apple is apparently being blames for not controlling app prices. Seriously, people cannot have it both ways!

    I am not saying that there is not a problem with App Store vetting – clearly there is. This app is a fraud and should never have been approved. But people need to get a clue and stop getting outraged every time something does not turn out perfectly.

    1. Those with great power have great responsibility.

      With iOS Apple has basically removed the ability of the end user from testing apps on his own. You have to download an app and start using it in order to figure out if it does what it claims to do, and not act as a front for mining your wallet every month or at every turn. The end user of Apple’s iOS walled garden has little choice but to trust that Apple conducts thorough reviews of the apps in its store. Do you know what guarantees this check offers end users? NO, YOU DON’T. Apple publishes “guidelines” that it selectively enforces. It changes the guidelines whenever it wants. End users have zero say in the matter. That’s a problem. Apple also does everything possible to encourage users to have an Amazon-like One Click payment credit card set up so that inadequately disciplined users can binge on impulse buys.

      So what is the obvious outcome? Unfortunately, the iOS App store has become 90% in-app purchases for time waster games, heavy handed in-app advertising everywhere else. The end user has little or no ability to get real reviews or technical details because the app store rating system is a joke. Trial periods are for some unknown reason not popular with Apple’s store geniuses. Apple merely offers a cursory automated app scan and then is happy to offer to its end users useless copycat redundant junk apps, fraud apps, and time waster apps that the intelligent user has inadequate resources to wade through to find the few gems.

      Now this:

      Of course it is easy to side with the industrial gorilla and let the buyer beware, but Apple’s return policy sucks too. When the Company Store is the only store in town, it’s only a matter of time before shoppers start to resent the low quality, high price tendencies that monopoly situations always gravitate towards.

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