Apple just pulled this movie piracy app that cracked the App Store top 10

App Store
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple prides itself on the App Store, especially in light of regulations forcing it to accept third party app stores. Apple claims that its strict control means the App Store is the best and safest way to download iPhone apps. But not even Apple is perfect, exemplified by the fact a secret piracy slipped through and went undetected for months.

As reported by The Verge, there used to be an app called Kimi on the App Store. While it claimed to be a simple vision testing app, Kimi was only using this as a cover. The reality was it was an app for watching pirated movies, which will explain why Kimi shot up to 8th place on the App Store’s top free entertainment app list.

Unsurprisingly Kimi has since been pulled from the App Store, presumably after someone at Apple got wind of the slip-up. The crazy thing is that Kimi didn’t seem to be hiding its true intentions very well. The Verge pointed out that the app looked supremely scammy, but once the app was actually installed users were immediately met with pages showcasing free movies and TV shows. 

You didn't have to tap a specific thing or click through a secret combination of menus, everything was just... there. In full view.

Kimi’s reviews also reportedly featured comments from people expressing their joy at being able to watch free movies. You can read some of those reviews in an archived version of Kimi’s App Store page too. It is shockingly blatant what this app really is, and if you any of these folks be sure never to trust them with any of your secrets.

Apparently Kimi wasn’t that bad a service. The Verge notes that it was “kind of decent” and more or less effortless. The app let you search for specific shows and movies, with filters to narrow it down, and a “Ranking” tab that showcased what other people were watching. Quality could be hit and miss, but it certainly sounds like the kind of experience you’d get from a legitimate streaming service or digital storefront.

Apple apparently wasted no time in removing Kimi from the App Store, and it was gone within two hours of The Verge’s original story going live. According to Apple, Kimi was removed after it was discovered the app's bait-and-switch deception - which is a violation of App Store rules.  

 It’s not clear whether the takedown was done in response to The Verge's story, or if Apple already had Kimi in its sights. It was trending at the time, after all, and the app really wasn’t doing a good job of covering its tracks. 

But it is kind of ironic that this happened shortly after Apple made a big deal about being forced to allow third party app stores onto iOS in the EU, and told Tom's Guide that it's committed to keeping the App Store safe from deceptive and fraudulent apps. 

Services like Google Play do have a much bigger problem with dodgy and scammy apps compared to the Apple App Store, but it's still clear even Apple’s processes are still far from perfect.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.