Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Has Apple taken action against apps that cloned the popular web game Wordle? They have now disappeared from the App Store, after several publications (including The edge) exclaimed a deluge of copycats so blatant they were dubbed “Wordle” that showed the same gameplay and user interface, each taking advantage of the fact that developer Josh Wardle hadn’t created an Apple app of its own. While we still see a few clones in the App Store, they don’t use the Wordle name.

The clone apps were in the spotlight today, when a developer started bragging about how many downloads his version of Wordle got. After a strong reaction from the community, he set his account to private, but people had already started finding many other similar apps in the App Store.

The search results for Wordle at 5pm ET today, showing two clones.

Wordle search results at 8:08 PM ET — the first results now are an app from five years ago and a story about Words With Friends 2.

Apple did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for confirmation that it was the one who took action against the Wordle-alikes, but it seems unlikely that every developer decided to remove their app in about an hour. If Apple really cracks down on the apps, it will tip the scales significantly to protect the original game.

While there have been similar high-profile situations in the past – if protocol points out, Flappy Bird and Threes vs 2048 come to mind — it’s hard to think of a recent example where Apple stepped in as heavily as it seems to have done today. Apple does have copycat language in its developer guidelines, but it’s remarkably vague: “Come up with your own ideas,” says Section 4.1. “Don’t just copy the latest popular app from the App Store, or make some minor changes to another app’s name or UI and pass it off as your own.”

There have been questions about how Apple would deal with blatant clones, as it seems to let things slip in some cases. With the disappearance of the Wordle-alikes from the App Store, we may have set a precedent for how similar is too similar.

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