Apple needs to find a way to outsmart the clones once and for all


Picture: The Matrix Revolutions
Picture: The Matrix Revolutions

Everyone wants to make a mint in the App Store. But while some developers slave away in coding dens on original ideas, others see a get-rich-quick shortcut through copying.

The result is an App Store littered with clones, frustrated devs, and Apple stuck playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole to police the rip-off apps.

Recently the developers of micro-messaging service Yo — this year’s most unlikely App Store success story — were shocked to discover that another eerily-similar app called Yolo was hoovering up its potential downloads.

“I noticed a clone that was an exact replica, including the exact same UI, same App Store screenshots, and same App Store description copied word-for-word,” Yo creator Or Arbel tells Cult of Mac.

Cloned Blek sets a new low for shameless ripoffs


Cloned Blek took one of the most unique iOS puzzle games in ages and, well, made it less unique.
Cloned Blek took one of the most unique iOS puzzle games in ages and, well, made it less unique.

By enhancing discoverability and human curation in its App Store, and favoring innovative indie developers over brainless money-hungry giants, Apple is doing a lot of things right these days when it comes to iOS.

An area it could still work on, however, is kicking out knockoff titles — or making sure they never make it into the App Store to begin with.

Case in point is Cloned Blek. Brought to our attention by Gamezebo, the title is a shameless display by apparent ripoff artists Coffee House Apps.

How minimalist puzzler Blek turned two brothers into millionaires

Photo credit: Apple
Blek combines pop art stylings with super-addictive gameplay. Photo: Kunabi Brother

Brothers Denis and Davor Mikan make it look easy. They created a memorable and graphically beautiful puzzler called Blek that rocketed to the top of the paid game chart in the iOS App Store, making them millions in the process. Deceptively simple — with a nod to 60s pop art — the game caught the attention of Apple, too, which recently handed them a Design Award in recognition.

“It may sound simple, but it’s the Apple kind of simplicity that actually takes a lot of work,” Denis Mikan says of the game he co-created.

“It may sound simple, but it’s the Apple kind of simplicity that actually takes a lot of work.”

The idea behind Blek is ingeniously straightforward. At its simplest you draw a line on screen, and then this line repeats itself over and over until it encounters a black dot, or goes outside of the screen borders and resets. Draw the line slowly and it moves slowly, draw it fast and it moves fast. Your aim is to clear the screen of colored dots without accidentally touching a black one. But from small acorns grow mighty oaks, and since Blek arrived in the App Store a few months ago it has received close to a million downloads at $2.99 each.

Still reeling from their breakout success, Mikan told us about Blek‘s unlikely odyssey from the brothers’ hometown of Vienna, Austria, into the hearts of iOS gamers around the world. Befitting the game they brought into the world, their journey was hardly a straight line.

5 inventive iOS games that wowed Leo’s Fortune designer

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Bouncing, huffing and puffing through a beautifully-rendered cartoon world, avoiding jagged rolling wheels and collecting coins, Leo’s Fortune may just be the year’s most lovable iPhone game. But which games did its creators fall in love with?

Following our exclusive look inside behind the scenes of Apple’s iPhone “game of the month,” we asked Leo’s Fortune designer Anders Hejdenberg to name his current top five iOS games. He said he’s most impressed by titles that pair intriguing artwork with novel gameplay mechanics.

The highly imaginative Monument Valley, for instance, won him over quickly. “It didn’t take long to finish,” says Hejdenberg of his experience playing the game, “but during that time I experienced quite a few moments where I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is really cool!’ That rarely happens when I play games, so it was definitely worth the price of admission.”

Here are the other iOS games currently taking his breath away. (You’ll find download links available below the gallery.)