This Week's Sponsor:

Whisper Memos

Turn Your Ramblings into Paragraphed Articles, Sent Right to Your Email Inbox


Posts tagged with "reddit"

Apollo To Shut Down June 30th, Leading Many of the Largest Subreddits to Stage a Blackout

By now, most MacStories readers are probably familiar with the story surrounding Reddit’s decision charge exorbitantly high fees for access to its API after years of offering it for free to third-party developers like Christian Selig, the creator of Apollo. Since then, the situation has gone from bad to worse, with Reddit making unsubstantiated allegations of blackmail against Christian. With Reddit unwilling to budge and Apollo facing astronomical costs, Christian made the decision last week to remove Apollo from the App Store on June 30th, eight years after its debut.

If I were in Christian’s shoes, I’m sure I’d make the same hard decision, but that doesn’t make the app’s demise any easier for its users. Apollo is a fantastic app that’s been a favorite of ours and our readers for years. Christian is a genuinely wonderful person too, which makes this even harder to witness. Federico and I had the pleasure of interviewing him on one of the earliest episodes of AppStories, and it was great to finally get to meet him at WWDC in 2022.

But the thing that sets Apollo apart from other apps is the community around it, which is a testament to both Christian and his app. Apollo is a fantastic Reddit client, but it also became a tool for helping others by raising over $80,000 for Christian’s local animal shelter. Apollo has also been a showcase for some of the best icon designers around, helping spread the word about their work through the app’s enormous alternate icon catalog. The upshot of Reddit’s short-sighted business decisions is a loss that transcends the shutdown of a single app, which has been made all the more apparent by the widespread and ongoing Reddit blackout that has seen some of the largest subreddits go dark or read-only, crashing the site earlier today.

The other reality of shutting down an app like Apollo is that it’s expensive because subscribers will be entitled to a pro-rated refund for the remainder of their subscriptions. Christian is working on an Apollo update to allow users to forego their refund, similar to what Tweetbot and Twitterrific did after Twitter cut off their access to its API. Christian has also re-enabled Apollo’s tip jar. If you’d like to help defray the cost of Apollo’s shutdown, you’ll find tip options of $0.99, $5, and $10 in the app’s settings.


Reddit Quotes Extraordinarily High API Pricing to Apollo Developer

I’ve never used Reddit without a third-party app. For a while, that was Narwhal, and most recently, Apollo. Sure, I read Reddit in Safari once in a while when a Google search leads me there, but I’ve never used Reddit’s first-party app because it’s never been as good as third-party alternatives.

In April, Reddit announced that it would start charging users for API access. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s a lot like what played out with Twitter’s API and third-party apps. And just like Twitter, Reddit is charging a price for its API that’s so steep, it’s hard to imagine any third-party apps will be able to pay it.

Christian Selig, the creator of the immensely popular Reddit client Apollo, on the pricing he was quoted:

I’ll cut to the chase: 50 million requests costs $12,000, a figure far more than I ever could have imagined.

Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year. Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month, which is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month.

I hope Reddit reconsiders its pricing, but I’m afraid we may be seeing the end of the era when platforms used free or cheap APIs to accelerate their growth. Reddit may be within its rights to charge so much, but that doesn’t make it any less a slap in the face to app developers like Selig, whose app has helped grow Reddit’s business. Between this and Twitter, it’s hard to imagine new services attracting third-party support as a way to grow their businesses ever again.

Permalink

Apollo Brings the Best of Reddit to iOS 14’s Widgets

Christian Selig, developer of the excellent Reddit client Apollo, has always been deeply connected with his users and Reddit culture on the whole. Many of Apollo’s updates focus on the kind of nit-picky features and tweaks that heavy users of the app and platform care about. So it should come as no surprise that in building iOS 14 widgets for Apollo, Selig took inspiration from some of the things people love most about Reddit.

Apollo offers a whopping seven different types of widgets, roughly half of which are the sort of widgets you would expect – displaying posts from your favorite subreddit or providing launchers into different subreddits – while the other half specialize in bringing the best of Reddit to your Home Screen.

Let’s start with the fun ones: Wallpaper, Showerthoughts, and Jokes.

Read more


Apollo 1.2 Is Packed With Redditors’ Feature Requests

Today a big update launched for Apollo, the Reddit client for iOS that I once said “may just be the best designed social feed app I’ve ever used.” Version 1.2 isn’t focused so much on major new features, but instead a huge wealth of small improvements based on feedback from the Reddit community that make for an even more delightful user experience.

Apollo’s new Jump Button is a quick way to jump between top-level comments and save yourself some scrolling. Progress bars for GIFs and video runtimes on thumbnails provide a better sense of context when browsing. There are new settings options to change which browser links open in, to view videos directly in the YouTube app, and more. And lots of under-the-hood tweaks simply make the app faster and more responsive than ever before.

For a visual peek at these changes and more, developer Christian Selig put together a great video, linked below. The full 1.2 release notes are available on the App Store, and in Selig’s launch post on Reddit.

Permalink

Burst: A Reddit Client to Pop Your Filter Bubble

Burst is a new Reddit client for iPhone with a unique goal: bursting the filter bubbles we can all find ourselves in.

Recent political events around the globe highlight how harmful it can be to society when people are only exposed to news from one perspective. The same piece of news can be spun into two polar opposite stories by differing political parties, leading each opposing side to remain, at best, misunderstood, and at worst, demonized. To lesser degrees these divisions extend to other areas of life too, such as technology debates between iOS and Android users, or even, to get a little more relevant to our audience, iPad and Mac users. In all these cases, Burst makes it easier to see the thoughts of people outside your normal online circles in an effort to broaden the array of perspectives you’re exposed to.

Read more


Apollo: A Powerful, Modern Reddit Client for iOS

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.

Read more


Reddit Adds iPad Support

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.

Reddit's iPad version (right) adds wide margins to the content.

Reddit’s iPad version (right) adds wide margins to the content.

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.


Reddit App Takedowns Expose Serious App Review Flaws

[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.


Apple Pulls Third-Party Reddit Clients for NSFW Content

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.