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Apple issues a rare apology to the developer whose free language app was mistakenly pulled

Apple rarely apologizes for human errors that from time to time happen to its editors tasked with screening the App Store submissions. So it’s pretty surprising that the company has apologized to student developer Brendan Ehsom over removing his free Indigenous language app for the iPhone after mistakenly accusing him of dishonest and fraudulent acts.

A member of the Gitga’at community of the Ts’msyen First Nation, Eshom launched his app on the App Store in July 2020. All he wanted was to promote the Sm’algyax culture and language.

It means the world to me. Ever since my youth, I’ve heard my grandparents speak it around me and they’ve always encouraged me to learn.

But it was all gone after an automated email from Apple.

A screenshot of the Apple website showing a section dedicated to promoting the App Store.

An email from Apple ruins everything

According to Ehsom:

All my hard work was gone that I had spent almost half a year on. It just vanished. At that point, it had about 600 downloads on the Apple App Store, which actually made me get to the education category top charts.

His efforts to seek answers from the powers that be at the company went nowhere.

It’s definitely concerning when Apple is accusing you of committing fraud. It was definitely more discouraging to not even hear why they took it down in the first place.

GlobalNews.ca reveals that Apple also wanted to terminate his developer account. But after Ehsom contacting Consumer Matters for help, Apple reinstated the app and apologizing to him,

Apple acknowledges the mistake

In an email to Ehsom, Apple stated:

Maintaining the integrity of the App Store is a responsibility we take seriously to ensure the safety of our customers, and give every developer a platform to share their brightest ideas with the world. Unfortunately, this developer’s app, which is a great example of how technology can be used to bridge cultural understanding, was mistakenly removed from the App Store.

And then, it dropped an unexpected apology.

How about an apology?

The email continued:

We regret this error and apologize to Mr. Eshom for the inconvenience this caused him. We have since reinstated his developer account and app, and will continue our efforts to improve our processes to ensure this does not happen again.

That’s a very rare example of Apple apologizing over what appears to be a human error.

These mistakes are not fun, but it’s impossible to avoid them as tens of thousands of new apps get submitted weekly. Rather than employ tens of thousands of editors to screen new submissions, Apple uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to flag suspicious apps.

Those apps are then heavily scrutinized by editors.

The App Store scams running rampant

According to Apple itself, the company terminated more than 500,000 developer accounts for fraudulent activity in 2020 alone. But despite all those measures in place, various scams continue to run rampant in the App Store, frustrating customers and honest developers.

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou has highlighted App Store scams on Twitter, offering more than a handful of examples of how scammers exploit the work of genuine app developers.

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