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Apple updates App Store screenshot rules to shutter scam

Screenshots uploaded with apps will be locked in place after app approval, preventing developers from swapping out images for other games.

A look at Minecraft.
Apple has thrown a block in the path of scamming developers looking to trick App Store users into downloading an app they might think is another popular game -- like Minecraft. Screenshot by Rich Brown/CNET

Apple announced a new App Store policy for developers today that effectively puts an end to a common bait-and-switch scam.

In a note on its Developer Portal, Apple said screenshots submitted by developers to accompany app descriptions in its App Store will be locked in place when the app wins approval.

Beginning January 9, app screenshots will be locked in iTunes Connect once your app has been approved. New screenshots may be uploaded when you submit a binary for an update to an existing app or a new app.

Before the new policy went into place, app developers would often upload legitimate game screenshots to accompany the app description, then switch them out for screenshots that resembled more popular games once the app was approved. The switch often snagged unsuspecting victims who assumed they were downloading a different app.

The popular game Minecraft was a frequent target of clone apps, with developers lifting screenshots from the game to promote an unrelated game. One example, cited by Panic Blog, showed a game called Mooncraft with a Minecraft app image that billed itself as "a moon-themed Minecraft-type game for iOS." But as a Panic video shows (see below), the game was instead an app that featured building blocks labeled with numbers and letters.

While this presumably means that scamming developers will no longer be able to game the App Store, it also hobbles legitimate developers trying to keep their app descriptions up to date.

(Via MacRumors)