Why freemium apps suck for everyone (and how Apple is killing paid apps)

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Only one of the top 200 grossing apps is a paid app
Paid apps are an endangered species: Only one of the 200 top-grossing apps on the App Store is a paid download.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

I work on an iPhone app called Reps & Sets as a hobby project in my spare time. This week, my partner and I came to the conclusion that there is no future for our app as a paid download, so we have reluctantly decided to make it free.

This was an incredibly tough call, because we have invested literally thousands of hours in developing our app over the years. Giving all that hard work away for free is heartbreaking. But we didn’t feel we had much choice.

Kid racks up almost $6,000 on Jurassic World in-app purchases

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Jurassic World
Cloning dinosaurs comes with a price tag. Who knew?
Photo: Lydia

Aside from a few big developers, no-one much likes in-app purchases, which have long been used to ruin mobile gaming on iOS.

However, the parents of 7-year-old Faisall Shugaa probably like them less than most — after their son racked up almost $6,000 in IAP bills, including $2,200 spent in just one hour.

In-app purchases flaw exposes developers to costly hacks

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With 2 million apps, the App Store is almost too big.
With 2 million apps, the App Store is almost too big.
Photo: PhotoAtelier/Flickr

Sloppy coding in some popular iOS games allows hackers to give themselves and others thousands of dollars’ worth of in-app purchases for free.

The hole was discovered by developers at DigiDNA, creator of a backup tool called iMazing that allows iPhone and iPad users to access their devices’ hidden file systems. The developers found that the app backup/restore feature in iMazing 1.3 exposes weaknesses in the way games like Angry Birds 2 and Tetris Free handle in-app purchases.

To demonstrate how easy it is to hack in-app purchases using this method, the DigiDNA team tweaked Angry Birds 2 to start the game with 999,999,999 gems — the equivalent of $10,000 of in-game credits.