Reddit is one of those spaces on the Internet that I’ve historically stayed mostly away from. Due to my role at MacStories, however, and a thriving Apple subreddit, I’ve been there more in the past year than all prior years combined. During that time I’ve tried all the best iOS Reddit clients in an attempt to find one that’s right for me. For one reason or another, none have stuck; today, however, that changes, with the release of Apollo.
Posts tagged with "reddit"
Reddit purchased third-party client Alien Blue in 2014. This past Spring, Reddit launched its first official client. Many of Alien Blue's features found their way into the official client. However, one notable exception was iPad support. As a result, Alien Blue for iPad remained on the App Store and, in fact, is still there.
Today, Reddit updated its official client to support the iPad. The UI of the iPad version is the same as the iPhone version, but with margins added to the left and right sides of the screen to avoid it looking like the content is stretched out. As a result there is a lot of white space if you use the app in landscape mode. I would have preferred to see a more creative use of the iPad’s added screen real estate, but the update is still better than using the scaled-up version of the iPhone app.
[Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from Ongoing Development, a column by John Voorhees published 2-3 times a month in MacStories Weekly, the email newsletter sent to Club MacStories members. This installment first appeared in MacStories Weekly #28 and is being published here at the request of Club members.
Ongoing Development focuses on issues facing app developers and others in creative fields that rely on the web to reach an audience. Previous installments have covered topics like app marketing strategies and making the time to tackle new projects.
You can access past issues of MacStories Weekly, including Ongoing Development, and enjoy other perks by becoming a Club MacStories member.]
Something has been bothering me since last week that I can’t shake - the Reddit debacle that unfolded last Monday night. That evening, Apple pulled several third party Reddit clients for violating App Review rule 18.2 which says that:
Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (e.g. “Chat Roulette” Apps) will be rejected.
Sounds awful right? It turns out that what Apple didn't like was that these apps had a NSFW switch in their settings that allowed you to block (or show) NSFW content. Narwhal's developer who spoke to Gizmodo said:
Today, we received notice that our new update with a lot of great new features was rejected under the App Store rule 18.2: “Your app contains a mechanism to enable or disable Not Safe For Work (NSFW) content, including pornographic content. Apps with sexually explicit content are not appropriate for the App Store.” About 15 minutes afterwards, we received notice that the current version of our app has been removed from the app store.
You can argue with the policy choice Apple made and rightly point out that every browser violates Rule 18.2 if Reddit clients do, but it's that last bit of the quote above that's been bothering me. The part where Apple decided that a feature that was in some of these apps for over a year violated rule 18.2 and then immediately pulled them off the App Store. These weren't new apps pushing boundaries, these were existing approved apps. The only thing that changed was Apple's interpretation of its own rule.
Federico wasn't joking when he tweeted that he feels like he's writing an App Review story every week. This particular story came and went quickly, in part because the developers affected scrambled to update their apps and Apple expedited review. But the implications of the shoot first, ask questions later approach to App Review bear further examination because they has lasting negative effects on the developer community and, ultimately, Apple and its customers.
This sort of out-of-the-blue, unilateral action legitimately strikes fear into the hearts of developers. Consider these responses to Federico's tweet from Bryan Irace and Matt Bischoff, both formerly of Tumblr:
This is no exaggeration. I don't know a developer who hasn't had a run-in with App Review and wondered, 'Maybe this is it. This is where my my app dies.' That may sound a little dramatic, but read the results of Graham Spencer's poll of developers - the feeling is real.
I can imagine that some at Apple may roll their eyes at this as an overreaction, or be a little offended at the implied lack of trust, but step into developers' shoes. In the absence of meaningful communication by Apple of its intentions, it's stories like the Reddit client take-downs that shape developers' behavior. And as Federico noted, it's not like this is an isolated story, it's one of a long string of similar stories that make developers jumpy.
What bothers me the most about this incident is how Apple implemented its policy change. There was no imminent threat or emergency that made Reddit clients any more a threat than they were twelve months prior, but nonetheless Apple summarily pulled them and offered to reconsider the apps if the developers resubmitted. The developers worked through the night, resubmitted their apps and many were back on the App Store by the next morning. As a result, the story barely got traction and, while Apple may have avoided an onslaught of bad press, the damage was done. Developers took note.
So what to do? Probably the other reason this episode bothers me as much as it does is that it seems like the solution is obvious. I will grant that it's easy for me to say that sitting here blissfully ignorant of many of the issues Apple faces, but just because it may be a hard problem to solve isn't an excuse not to try. Apple needs to define when apps can and should be pulled from the App Store without advance warning and make that clear to developers. Those circumstances no doubt exist, such as where there is an immediate threat to customers or their data, but in circumstances like this, where a feature has been in apps for over a year, developers should be given advance notice of any policy change and a fair period of time to make adjustments before an app is pulled from the Store.
I also think that it's time for Apple to appoint an internal advocacy group for third party developers. A group that takes developers' calls, attends conferences, and is a voice for developers when policy choices like this are made.
The distrust caused by events like this is the sort of thing that is not easily fixed and will erode developer support for iOS in the long term if it's not addressed. That's not good for Apple or its customers. It's hard enough to build a sustainable business on the App Store. Making app take-down stories a thing of the past would go a long way toward eliminating some of the negative sentiment we saw in the MacStories developer poll.
Update (4am PDT 12 April 2016): Some of the third-party Reddit clients have now returned to the App Store. Both Narwhal and Antenna are now available in the App Store, but both have been updated to remove the NSFW toggle that used to be in their apps. It is our understanding that Apple's objection is with the implementation of those NSFW toggles. Apple wants them removed from all Reddit apps so that if a user does want to view NSFW content, that toggle must be manually changed from the Reddit website.
Today, numerous third-party Reddit clients were removed from the App Store by Apple for breaching clause 18.2 of the App Review Guidelines. This clause states that apps will be rejected if they contain "user generated content that is frequently pornographic".
The official Reddit app, which launched last week and was featured by Apple on the App Store, currently remains in the App Store, but other Reddit clients including Narwhal, Antenna, Eggplant and BaconReader have all been removed for sale. These third-party Reddit clients were removed from Apple without any advance notice to developers, despite some of the apps being available on the App Store for well over a year. It should also be noted that many of these third-party apps, such as Narwhal, did have a filter to enable or disable NSFW content.
It is our understanding that Reddit did not ask Apple to remove the third-party Reddit apps. This aligns with Reddit's statement from last week (after the launch of the official Reddit app) in which Reddit's VP of Consumer Product stated "if you already have an app you like, you're free to continue enjoying it".
Rick Harrison, co-author of the Narwhal Reddit client provided this quote to MacStories:
It also seems that a few other popular third-party Reddit apps were removed from the store, but not the official Reddit app. I reached out to Reddit asking them if they knew anything, and they informed me that they did not request Apple to pull these apps, and they were also receiving issues from Apple about 18.2. I think that Apple did not pull their app because they are a big company and were recently featured. As shown time and time again, Apple does not really care whatsoever about indie developers. From taking 30% of barely any revenue to rejecting apps based on features that have been available for 18+ months.
It is too soon to say, but Apple's actions today may well be the latest example of policy and procedural failure on App Review. We covered this topic in detail in a story last month which chronicled the depth of developer frustration at App Review.
We will continue to monitor this story and provide further updates and details as we come across them.
For a long time, Reddit was unique among large online communities for its lack of an official mobile client on any platform. That gap was filled by third party developers who made popular Reddit clients like Alien Blue and Narwal. Then in 2014, Reddit purchase Alien Blue, which has been the official Reddit client for the last 18 months.
Today, Reddit launched a new official iOS client called appropriately, Reddit. At the same time, Reddit has removed the iPhone version of Alien Blue from the App Store. The iPad version of Alien Blue remains in the App Store and is free because for now at least, Reddit is iPhone only.
Some of the highlights of the new Reddit app include card and compact views, a dark mode called ‘Reddit night’, which was also available in Alien Blue, a ‘safe for work browsing’ toggle, and support for multiple accounts. In addition, if you log into Reddit during launch week, you get a free three-month trial of Reddit’s gold membership, which is normally $3.99/month or $29.99/year. Based on my initial use of the app, Reddit is a solid debut. The card view is nice for browsing media, but switching to compact mode is great for skimming through lots of items quickly. I also appreciate the inclusion of a night mode.
Reddit, which is iPhone only, is available for download on the App Store for free.
I realize that I'm spending quite a bit of time on Reddit each day (some subreddits can be surprisingly civil and informative), but I never really considered the Gold membership. It's got some intriguing perks.
Alien Blue, perhaps the most popular third-party Reddit app available on iOS, has been acquired by Reddit. Greg Kumparak writes at TechCrunch:
We heard whispers of this deal going back a few weeks. While reddit isn’t disclosing terms, they’ve just confirmed to me that they’ve acquired the Alien Blue project and that its Melbourne-based developer, Jase Morrissey, will be joining their team.
Curiously, reddit seems to hesitate in calling the app their “official iOS reader” — they’re keeping the “Alien Blue” name, for example, rather than changing it to just be called “reddit” or “reddit reader” or something.
I've covered Alien Blue several times here at MacStories over the past five years – it's always been a fantastic Reddit client packed with nice design touches and powerful functionalities to customize the way you read Reddit, browse sub-reddits, and interact with comments. It's interesting to see Reddit acquiring a power-user app such as Alien Blue rather than more simplistic and minimal clients, and it makes me wonder if the company will keep on adding features for reading and user management, or if they'll begin to simplify the app and remove its advanced features (always been a fan of subreddit grouping and iCloud sync in the app).
Alien Blue joins the dedicated Reddit AMA app on the App Store, and it's available in two versions for iPhone and iPad; Reddit is keeping the app's "Pro" In-App Purchase, but to ease the transition to the separate app, they're offering it for free for a limited time.
Developed by Rick Harrison, Narwhal is a clean and fast Reddit client for iOS 7 that I've been using on my iPhone for the past month to check on the Reddit front page and my favorite sub-reddits.
I’m not an active Reddit user, but I enjoy checking the front page and a few subreddits to stay on top of tech/gaming news and the latest meme. For years, I’ve been using Alien Blue on my iPhone and iPad to read threads, view links and photos, and navigate to my favorite subreddits, and I think that the app remains the premier Reddit client for iOS with tons of options and settings. I was curious, however, to try out Redd, a $0.99 Reddit client for iPhone specifically designed for iOS 7.