App Scam: Awesome Photo FX is more than a ripoff of the superior app Etchings

New photo app Awesome Photo FX by Duan hucai may look familiar to you because it is. It looks a lot like the photo app Etchings, except this one is buggier.

It’s not just a ripoff of the superior Etchings. Most of its code is ripped off from the original app.

pixels, iphone art, iphone photo, iphoneography, mobile photography

Have a look at the app to compare the two, but do not buy Awesome Photo FX. A developer that steals code is worse than shady. At best you’ll get stuck with a broken app that’s unsupported.

Keep reading for more info and photos.

Etchings is a great, unique app that I’ve previously reviewed. It applies any of several crosshatch etching effects to your images.

I received an email from Bill Wilson, the developer of the original Etchings app, alerting me to this scam. I dropped the two bucks on the scam app so you don’t have to.

Much of Awesome Photo FX is almost an exact copy of the original Etchings app. The opening screen is nearly identical, except the onscreen Info button doesn’t work. The UI is nearly the same except for the Cancel and Save buttons. The app’s effects are identical, even down to the crosshatch applied. The  filter names are the same. Even the money effect was stolen without any changes.

After some digging, it looks like much of the code for Awesome Photo FX was hacked and stolen from Etchings, and then reuploaded as this new app.

“I opened up the .ipa file that I bought and found all of our artwork, GPU fragment shaders, our compiled user interface files, everything, etc.,” says Bill Wilson. “Of course running the app, everything is identical (a few graphics have changed) even the output resolution is 1200×1200, filter names and output are identical.”

I’ll bet that even the icon is stolen from another app.

Stealing code is worse than selling a badly coded clone of an app. It’s theft of intellectual property. Even if a few hundred users purchase and download the app before it gets pulled, this shady developer will be rewarded by a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in sales off the backs of the team that put hundreds of hours into the development of the app.

Mindsea have started action against this scam version of the app. Hopefully, it should be removed from the App Store soon. For now, have a look at the app for a laugh, but I strongly recommend that you not only avoid this app but this shady developer’s other apps as well.

Please share this post to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to warn your friends and family about this app scam.

Etchings is a very cool app. Here’s the App Store link if you’d like to buy the real version of the app.

Etchings - MindSea Development Inc.



Etchings and Awesome Photo FX splash screens
Awesome Photo FX and “stolen Franklin”. The Franklin effect is identical in both apps.


About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Sam Azzam

    Thanks for alerting the users to and taking a stand against this scam Marty. As a developer I'm appalled by such devious behavior and commend Mindsea for their vigilance and hope the app will be removed from the app store quickly.

    • lifeinlofiblog

      Thanks, Sam. I realize that it's hard enough to make an app profitable without also having to worry about unscrupulous developers stealing your code.


  • Kaisa Breeden

    Thanks for the warning–maybe it’s naïveté on my part, but I’d like to think I wouldn’t have to worry about encountering such blatently dodgy apps on the Apple App Store. Lesson learned.

  • Orson Willis

    I think that the folks of the AppStore must control the Chino-Rubbish that recently has invaded the store.
    No quality, no creativity but only very expensive RubbishApps spread like never seen before.
    This is a mirror of our times. Creativity killed by mediocrity.
    Thx for the advice.

  • Matthias

    Seems it´s always good to read the full article – I was first mislead by the title:

    App Scam: Awesome (thought you meant it is awesome) Photo FX is more than a ripoff (so it´s better?) of the superior (or is it not?) app Etchings

    might have been better like this:

    App Scam: "Awesome Photo FX" is more than a ripoff of the superior app Etchings


    Thank´s for the information – hope the AppStore bans the developer for lifetime as I guess there will not be much more that can be done … even better would be a blacklist of souch apps and there developers on the AppStore to inform the users (if the app just vanishes hardly anyone may be aware of the problem …)
    So thanks again – and Bill Wilson: Great original work!

  • iOS Developer

    These Chinese people are cheaters. Although they work hard, always in incorrect and illegal direction. They misuse their skills and power. Apple’s biggest mistake is to support China on app store

  • robcrawford2

    Apple makes money from the sales of pirated apps. Either they need to take action, or they are admitting they support software piracy.