Back in December 2012, the development team behind the popular source for pirated iOS apps, Installous, announced that they were shutting down. With a jailbroken iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you could download practically any app you find on the App Store. Despite its doors being closed, it appears that piracy is still as rampant as ever before.
Case in point, Tweetbot. Tweetbot is one of the most popular Twitter clients for iOS. It costs $2.99. It’s worth every penny, and despite Twitter’s token limits on third-party clients, I decided to pay the pricy $20 for the Mac app version. Best $20 I’ve ever spent.
According to Gizmodo UK today, pirated copies of Tweetbot automatically insert the following embarrassing message to the compose box in the app:
I’ve been demoing a pirated copy of @tweetbot and really like it so I’m going to buy a copy!
A quick search on Twitter will lead you to more guilty folks who have made the same public admission. What’s even more hilarious is that the app itself does not automatically post this message for you. Why would people post this message then?
Tweetbot’s developer summed it up quite nicely: “Stupidity?”
Sunny with a chance of fireballs
Conditions is a weather app that recently came out. It looks pretty nice and only costs a buck so you might want to check it out. If you happen to own a pirated copy though and launched the app, you will find this worrisome weather forecast:
Developer Jake Marsh has his eyes on you pirates out there.
Arrrrgh ye Matey!Messing with App pirates is my new favorite thing: cl.ly/N7Q7/image.jpg
— Jake Marsh (@jakemarsh) February 25, 2013
When public shaming goes wrong
Yeah, take that you stinking pirates!
This isn’t the first time developers have decided to turn the table on pirates. Enfour took the same approach as Tapbot did with Tweetbot, though things didn’t end as well for them. Rather than giving users the ultimate ability to post an embarrassing tweet, Enfour’s Oxford Dictionary app automatically posted the tweet for you.
But wait, it’s a dictionary app! Why would it have anything to do with Twitter!
The story goes that the company released a new update informing users of “an important change” without much further detail. Users ended up updating the app and upon launching it, they were prompted for access to their Twitter account. Most declined, but by doing so, the app would close itself, kicking the user out. Those who accepted on the other hand after numerous frustrated attempts to get in, gave the app permission to post the following to their feed:
How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession
The catch is that the app couldn’t distinguish between legitimate users who had paid the $55 for the app ($55 for a dictionary app???) and pirates. As you can imagine, people weren’t pleased with this. Teller, the silent half of the magic duo, Penn & Teller, was a victim as well.
Side note: That must be one helluva dictionary app.
The true victims of piracy
As entertaining as it is to poke fun at pirates, the reality is that piracy is still a major problem. When hard working software developers end up having to shut down their app because of rampant piracy, everyone loses.
Probably one of the best examples of this is an iOS game called Battle Dungeon which was developed by Hunted Cow. After less than a week of its release, the app had to be shut down because its servers couldn’t handle the number of pirated copies that were preventing legitimate users from playing. Despite the unfortunate turn of events, the developers still provided full refunds for those who had purchased the game. Class acts.
Stuff like this should never happen. Do what’s right. Support developers and pay for the software you use.