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Piracy app Kimi overtook Netflix on the App Store before Apple removed it

Published Feb 15th, 2024 12:58PM EST
Kimi was a movie piracy app that Apple removed from the App Store.
Image: App Store

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Earlier this week, a vision-testing app shot up the charts on the iOS App Store. Kimi claimed to be an app iPhone owners could use to test their eyesight, but after downloading it, those users were instead presented with a sizable collection of pirated movies and TV shows. Apple finally removed the app on Tuesday, but not before Kimi made waves on the App Store.

According to Gizmodo, data from app intelligence firm Appfigures shows that Kimi was the 12th most popular app on the entire App Store on Monday and the 4th most popular on the list of free entertainment apps. To put that in perspective, Kimi was temporarily more popular than the apps for Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, Max, and Disney+.

While Kimi’s rise to power was short-lived, the app had been available on the iOS, iPadOS, and macOS App Stores since September 2023. It’s unclear how or why it remained on the App Store for so long without being noticed, but Appfigures says downloads of the app spiked this Sunday and Monday. 65,000 downloads in two days undoubtedly put Kimi in Apple’s crosshairs, and the company quickly killed it over a multitude of App Store rule violations.

Kimi’s sudden popularity and inevitable axing call to mind the Popcorn Time era, another movie piracy app that flourished on a variety of platforms in the late 2010s.

Like Popcorn Time before it, Kimi seemed to be a well-made app, according to The Verge. In its story about the app moments before its demise, The Verge described Kimi as “honestly kind of decent,” highlighting its easy filtering options and helpful Ranking tab.

Illegal and malicious apps occasionally sneak their way through the cracks on both Google Play and the App Store, but Apple has been on a somewhat inauspicious streak in recent weeks. Just days before Kimi’s ascent, the makers of the LastPass app published a blog post warning users about a fraudulent app called “LassPass” masquerading as their app on the App Store. The fake app was promptly removed, but how did it get through in the first place?

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.