Apple & Google Wage War On Chameleon Apps

Tia Winter | 1 October 2019

Apps masquerading as offering something other than what they really do are a problem now, especially when it comes to real money gambling content. But Google and Apple are onto developers embracing a bit of deception in order to get their content out there. Tougher rules and restrictions are now being imposed in an attempt to eradicate so-called “chameleon apps” from Google Play as well as from Apple’s App Store.

Apps featuring gambling-related content aren’t automatically frowned upon by either of the two tech giants. However, efforts have been significantly stepped up in an attempt to curb the leverage of related content in countries where online and mobile sites offering real-money gambling aren’t authorised to do business due to localised legalities.

The Efforts Intensify

According to content and security specialists Trend Micro, both leading tech companies have over the course of recent weeks launched a new and more vigorous war on chameleon apps and have removed various games and other apps from their respective stores after having discovered that some developers were attempting to scam their way into markets where real-money gambling apps are illegal.

The products in question appeared to feature functions like weather tracking systems and entertainment booking platforms when in fact, they were actually cleverly masqueraded real-money gambling applications.  

Pulling Cunning Trickery

Developers are applying their creative minds to the issue of masquerading content by hiding the actual nature of any given application in question. They are achieving this by making use of what is referred to as a “switch” feature. Certain features are activated and others deactivated at specific stages during the development and qualifier stages in an attempt to fool automated screening systems into “thinking” that the programs in question do not contain gambling-related material.

The developers guilty of masquerading their products in an attempt to fool Google and Apple certainly cannot be faulted in the creativity department as evidenced by the fact that many of the chameleon apps had even gone so far as having made it onto Apple’s App Store’s Top 100 best apps list.

The war is however now on good and proper and once Apple’s native content policies kick into place, it will become a great deal easier to stop the monster from rearing its ugly illegal head.