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iOS app tries to scam unsuspecting iPhone users with fake heart rate readings

Published Aug 7th, 2019 5:02PM EDT
Heart Rate Monitor App
Image: Shutterstock

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It’s no secret that Apple can be incredibly inconsistent when it comes to deciding which apps are granted entry into the App Store. In years past, we’ve seen Apple let some questionable apps in while simultaneously rejecting other apps for the most trivial of infractions.

That said, there’s no doubt Apple is always working hard to make the review process more transparent, seamless, and developer-friendly. And while some slip-ups are inevitable, it still somewhat mind-boggling that Apple’s App Store gatekeepers will often let in apps that are downright scammy and designed to bilk non-suspecting users out of their hard-earned money.

It’s certainly something of a cat-and-mouse game and Apple, to its credit, will often take swift action once a scam app is brought to its attention. Still, there’s no denying that Apple still has quite a bit of work to do when it comes to preventing scam apps from populating the App Store in the first place.

The latest instance of a scam app making its way into the App Store involves a fraudulent heart rate app which targets iPhone users with Touch ID enabled devices. Brought to light via 9to5Mac, the app is called Pulse Heartbeat and claims to measure a user’s heartbeat when a finger is placed upon the Touch ID sensor.

The con works as follows:

What the app does is ask users to place their finger on the Home button, supposedly to take a heart-beat reading. In reality, the app dims the display brightness its minimum to hide the content — which is actually Apple’s dialogue requesting authorization for a recurring in-app purchase.

The in-app purchase charges users about $85 for an annual subscription, with an option for a monthly subscription as well. A user on Twitter even managed to capture an online ad the app makers are currently running:

If you go to the app’s download page, you’ll see a number of less than favorable reviews calling it a fraud. Apple will hopefully remove the app sooner rather than later.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.