iPhone app 'Lock My Screen'? Well, no, it doesn't actually

Filed Under: Apple, Featured, iOS

Lock My Screen"Just a stupid wallpaper," commenter Nicole King wrote about an Apple app named Lock My Screen, after finding out that the app does nothing of the kind.

And Nicole is just one of 1,000+ others who fell for the name, assuming that the app would provide the pattern unlocking swipe security feature that prevents Android phones from butt-dialing or from being accessed by thieves or busybodies.

Any Android user who's swiped their device-unlock pattern in front of an iOS user will likely tell you that this particular security feature makes our Apple brethren a tad green with envy.

That desire for an easy screen unlock has earned the fake screen unlock developer over $1,000.

The app was released on March 9 and as of April 21, the app had garnered 1,100 reviews on the App Store.

Of those buyers, 1,042 gave the lowest possible rating of one star, while many commenters noted that they'd give the bogus app a zero star rating if that were possible.

It's easy to see how the buyers were tricked. Even after developer Fabio Junior posted a disclaimer stating that the app "does not provide any real lock mechanism", the screenshots of patterns used to advertise the app are still labelled "Lock Your Screen", "Pattern Code Security / Connect Dots to Unlock", "Choose Your Favourite Locking Mechanism", "Alpha-numberic [sic] Passcode" and "Biometrics Security".

Lock My Screen app

With so much security-ish speak, one might imagine the app would actually provide security.

Instead, all it provides is pretty screenshots of security while claiming that users can:

Get the best PATTERN CODE Security System for less than your morning coffee!

The Lock My Screen app provides illusions: 20 backgrounds that users can set as their wallpaper to give the appearance of lock-screen security.

Granted, the app is listed under the store's "Entertainment" category, which could arguably be a tipoff. Or, perhaps, the categorization could be ironic, given how un-entertained its buyers appear to be.

And granted, the pictures of security features might fool the gullible, and hence could be considered security against the dim. This is how the app's marketing describes this happening:

When someone messes with your phone they will think that it is locked and only you will be able to know how to unlock it as easily as it ever was.

If there's any lesson to be learned, it's that app buyers should read the description before plunking down their $1.99 (the app's original price was 99 cents. It went up to $1.99 on April 19, when the disclaimer was added).

Commenter Kolohediggerz put it this way:

It clearly says they're only pictures and that it's just a way to fool people who try to mess with your phone. Next time you buy an app read the description!

That's as good a takeaway as any, I suppose, though I do ponder the same thing pondered by commenter Darkj3di1:

How on earth does apple let these people charge for this crap??

How, indeed? As Josh Smith wrote, over at Gotta Be Mobile, Apple's done an OK job keeping dishonest apps out of the store.

They've even managed to ban apps that change hair color from blonde to brown. As Smith writes, and with this I concur, Apple also needs to ban apps with misleading descriptions.

Apple doesn't allow developers to write apps that change the iPhone lock screen, so don't fall for anything claiming to do that (unless you've got a jailbroken iPhone - see the Gotta Be Mobile story for details).

If you've already fallen for the bait, see Smith's story for tips on requesting a refund. Officially, Apple won't fork over the money, but Smith has had success with his requests.

Good luck getting your 99 cents or $1.99 back!

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13 Responses to iPhone app 'Lock My Screen'? Well, no, it doesn't actually

  1. RealmZ · 827 days ago

    isheep loves Android....
    OMG.... lol.... isheeps should stay away cuz u people are Lets go with what Apple says cool.....

  2. R0nin · 826 days ago

    Your reference to changing hair color was disengenuous. The issue had nothing to do with hair color per se, but with the added level of detail in illustrations that caused them to be deemed as sexually explicit.

    • R0nin · 826 days ago

      I guess I hit "Submit" too soon...

      Thanks for the "heads up" on this app. I agree that Apple should've rejected it/should take it down. It clearly intends to fool the buyer, not just 'thieves'.

      But it's hard to understand Apple's approval process. They wrongly disallow some apps, while allowing others that shouldn't be IMO.

  3. Robert Gracie · 826 days ago

    thanks for this update and warning about this, I go with more than a million download apps than something that has a 1000 downloads or something to it it the way I make sure I get a good application and not a bogus hoax one

  4. Steve · 826 days ago

    So much for the walled garden approach to protecting users.

    Maybe the app fooled apple as well?

  5. Mario · 826 days ago

    Why not just use the pass code lock that's built-in to the iPhone? (That's what I do)

  6. Beth h · 826 days ago

    People should not have to be super-sleuths who read between the lines to not get bamboozled. This description was misleading, pure and simple and this app should no have been made avaiable. Furthermore, this jack*** who created it should either be fined or prohibited from offering other apps for sale.

    "buyer beware" means just that, it should NOT mean "we will lie to you and take your money if you aren't constantly, over-the-top hyper-vigilant".

  7. Sootie · 824 days ago

    not as good as the solar charging app troll for andriod

  8. Bomyne · 824 days ago

    When I had an android phone I HATED the lock screen. I prefer the simple pin number unlock my iPhone has.

    • vasc0x · 606 days ago

      Android has PIN unlock also. By the way, PIN already includes the "number".

  9. If I go into somewhere and they advertise I beef burger I certainly do not expect a chicken burger. I found this app using top 25. The wallpapers on the pictures used to advertise clearly don't appear when you buy the app! This is a clear case of false advertising and this app should be deleted. Apple restrict everything why not make sure their users aren't duped like this!!!

  10. Adrian · 563 days ago

    This sort of junk is far too common in googles app store, so credit to apple for trying to keep these out.

  11. Karin · 206 days ago

    if you buy an app, ignoring that low a rating, and not reading the info - you deserve to go without that coffee!
    how much would five minutes of your time have cost you? oh, right, 99 cents.

    seriously, apple has given you the tools to protect yourself (reviews, descriptions, etc) - it's like blaming [coffee shop] for giving you fresh, hot coffee when you scald your fingers, but complaining if it is only lukewarm...

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.