Pinterest's New App Pins can be abused
Pinterest has just introduced "App Pins" in a special collaboration with Apple, which allows users to directly install iOS apps from within the Pinterest app itself. This is a great feature as it both helps Pinterest expand it's use cases & helps Apple in tackling the problem of app discovery on their already crowded/drowning App Store.
What are App Pins and how do they work?
As you can see in the picture above, in the top right of the app there is a blue Install button. You tap it and it will conveniently load the app page, where you can directly install the app. If you tap the Pin / Image itself, it will also "app swap" you to the iOS App Store page.
Pinterest has provided no instruction on how to generate App Pins and pin iOS apps other than "You can also save your favourite Apps right from the App Store itself". Doing so via the App Stores Share button, only lets you Pin the not-so-great looking App icon to your Pinterest boards. The demo App boards which are hand picked by the Pinterest staff themselves seems to display a variety of pinned images / screenshots and not just the App icons. This seemed a little silly so I investigated further on how to get App Pins attached to images other than the App icons on the App store.
How to abuse Pinterest App Pins (developers)
So it turns out that in order for a Pinterest Pin to become an "App Pin" for an App Pin, all it needs is to have the Pin's URL link point to the web iTunes app store page.
I've made a test pin to show that this works here. It is a random image that I have pinned and pointed to the Instagram app page. Test it in your iOS Pinterest app.
This means you can practically upload any image from anywhere and have it be an "App pin". You could have a picture of a Cake or a Wedding Dress, change the URL to have it point to your new (and unrelated) app and effectively change it into an App Pin.
Dangerous precedent for Pinterest
This is dangerous for Pinterest as developers are surely going to flood Pinterest with App Pins to drive traffic to their app install page. It is annoying enough to be unintentionally "app swapped" to the App store and it will become a big problem for Pinterest if app developers abuse this and create misleading / unrelated App Pins. Regular Pinterest users already know how easy it is to accidentally tap a Pins image and have it open the in-app browser - just imagine that scenario, but add the annoyance of App swapping. It will be extremely difficult to purge them if Pinterest lets it get out of hand.
I think it would have made more sense to only allow Pins to "become" App Pins, if the images are pinned from the actual iTunes app store website. Whilst this does limit Pinterest users choice of images, at least they will be relevant. App developers usually provide a good set of usable portrait oriented screenshots which would be suitable for pinning anyway.
I commend Pinterest's initiative and intentions; it just seems like they've opened up a potential avenue for abuse. Good news for iOS developers for the time being though I guess...
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