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Popular Reddit App Apollo Pulled From App Store Over Push Notification Snafu [Update: Back in App Store]

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Popular Reddit app Apollo was removed from the App Store this afternoon after developer Christian Selig released an update that adds push notifications as a premium feature, Selig explained on Reddit.

After introducing the latest version of the Apollo app, which has a paid feature enabling push notifications, Apple informed Selig that he was in violation of rule 3.2.2 that prohibits apps from monetizing Push Notifications and other iPhone and iPad capabilities provided by the hardware or operating system. The email Selig received from Apple:
Hello,
We are writing to let you know about new information regarding your app, Apollo for Reddit, version 1.3, currently live on the App Store.
Upon re-evaluation, we found that your app is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. Specifically, we found:

Business - 3.2.2 We noticed that your in-app purchase auto-renewable subscription product provides access to built-in Push Notification capabilities, which is not appropriate for the App Store.
For this reason, your app will be removed from sale on the App Store at this time.

Deliberate disregard of the App Store Review Guidelines and attempts to deceive users or undermine the review process are unacceptable and is a direct violation Section 3.2(f) of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement. Continuing to violate the Terms & Conditions of the Apple Developer Program will result in the termination of your account, as well as any related or linked accounts, and the removal of all your associated apps from the App Store.

Future submissions of this app may require a longer review time, and this app will not be eligible for an expedited review. If you have any questions about this information, please reply to this message to let us know.
Selig said that he's "quite confused" by Apple's decision, as he had worked with Apple on the implementation of the premium service after the app update was previously rejected for the same reason.

For background, several weeks ago, Selig said that the 1.3 update of Apollo had been rejected by Apple because it included the in-app purchase for unlocking push notifications. Selig explained at the time that he needs to charge to add push notifications due to the server costs associated with implementing them.

In an update earlier this month, Selig said he was able to develop a workaround with Apple by bundling the feature with other premium options like app theming and custom icons for an "Apollo Ultra" service, and the update was released on Saturday.

It's not clear why Apple pulled the Apollo app after telling Selig that it was appropriate to implement push notifications as part of a paid bundle of features, but Apple has been known for making confusing App Store decisions in the past. It's likely the issue will be solved quickly, and Selig says he will keep Apollo customers updated on the status of the app.

Update: Apollo is back in the iOS App Store and the app will be able to keep the Apollo Ultra in-app purchase option with push notifications as a paid feature.

Article Link: Popular Reddit App Apollo Pulled From App Store Over Push Notification Snafu [Update: Back in App Store]
 

AtomicDusk

macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2014
114
294
San Diego
Well, maybe it played out the way Selig states, maybe it didn't and when he worked with Apple on the "premium service" he didn't disclose he would be making users pay for notifications.

Too much he said, she said.

Regardless, this is a perfect example of the App Store being Apple's distribution platform. They make the rules, they enforce the rules.
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,253
15,295
Central U.S.
I mean, I get this for local push, but for server push? That stuff costs money and is a PITA if you try to roll your own. Trust me.

By doing this Apple is basically telling developers "Host it for free and make up for it by ramming ads down people's throats while selling their private information."

This is not good for consumers.
 
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titans1127

macrumors 65816
Mar 10, 2009
1,044
194
Used to love Apollo until I realized that you have to pay just to create an actual post from the app. I can under stand charging for the push notifications because of the need to maintain a server but such a basic feature should be free.
 
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Planey28

macrumors 6502
Jul 10, 2010
456
537
Birmingham, UK
Used to love Apollo until I realized that you have to pay just to create an actual post from the app. I can under stand charging for the push notifications because of the need to maintain a server but such a basic feature should be free.

Sorry but I don’t agree. It’s either that or the app costs money upfront.

Development is work. People need to eat.

A large part of the app works fine without paying a single penny.

What’s more the dev of Apollo is very transparent and interactive with the users of his app. Think it’s only fair for the amount of work he puts in that you pay a tiny tiny fee to use everything.
 
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madKIR

macrumors 6502a
Feb 2, 2010
849
801
NYC
“...but Apple has been known for making confusing App Store decisions in the past.“
I’d say not only in regards to App Store!
 
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anshuvorty

macrumors 68000
Sep 1, 2010
1,601
1,337
California, USA
Miscommunication between different parts of Apple and the App is back on the App Store. Can we please update this article? Here is the proof from the /r/apolloapp subreddit:

Apollo's back on the App Store, and I'm no longer super worried and running around petting my cat wide-eyed.

Long story short, Apple called and said it was a mistake, they're correcting it, and surely enough before I even got off the phone with them my phone had got a notification that the app was reinstated.

Fun fact, got the same guy on the phone who called me a few weeks ago, and the guy is still seriously the nicest guy.

Mistakes happen, especially at a company with as many moving parts at Apple and I hold no ill will toward them, if anything I'm super impressed by the quick turn around time and how nice they were.

Want to shout out to everyone who offered words of wisdom and help, and who offered to put me in contact with people at Apple, and people at Apple who reached out too. There's amazing people out there, and you all seriously made me feel a ton better. If any of you are at WWDC this year I owe you a beverage of your choice.

So, uhh, back to working on 1.4 I go!
 
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Diorama

macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2017
626
918
Well, maybe it played out the way Selig states, maybe it didn't and when he worked with Apple on the "premium service" he didn't disclose he would be making users pay for notifications.

Too much he said, she said.

Regardless, this is a perfect example of the App Store being Apple's distribution platform. They make the rules, they enforce the rules.

Selig has been very very open from the beginning about what demands Apple have made, when they have made them, how they were worded, and how they worked together on an agreeable solution.
Apple then approved the reworked app.
They then unapproved it after putting it up.
[doublepost=1540851173][/doublepost]
Used to love Apollo until I realized that you have to pay just to create an actual post from the app. I can under stand charging for the push notifications because of the need to maintain a server but such a basic feature should be free.

So what’s your job then? I assume you do it for free, right? Otherwise you are a lazy scab, stealing people’s money.

He could make the app cost one dollar, instead the app is free with one feature costing the admission price instead.
 
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adamjackson

macrumors 68000
Jul 9, 2008
1,862
3,072
Used to love Apollo until I realized that you have to pay just to create an actual post from the app. I can under stand charging for the push notifications because of the need to maintain a server but such a basic feature should be free.

Like Twitter, the majority of Reddit's users don't post to Reddit. They upvote and sometimes comment. By charging for something the minority of users do, he can use those users which are, to the reddit community, power users to fund the development of Apollo which is for most people free to use at least in their eyes.
 
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fairuz

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2017
2,486
2,589
Silicon Valley
It's not exactly monetizing the device's push notification system. It's monetizing his servers that send out the push requests. Apple should be a bit clearer. But it's reasonable that they disallow that too.
[doublepost=1540857095][/doublepost]
If 3.2.2 prevents apps from monetizing hardware and software abilities built into the device, then YouTube should be removed for monetizing PictureInPicture and background media playing.
I agree, it's super cheesy how they tried to monetize YouTube like that. I refuse to buy it out of principle. I can just leave my phone on the YouTube webpage, not gonna pay for it.
 
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PickUrPoison

macrumors G3
Sep 12, 2017
8,131
10,716
Sunnyvale, CA
Typical left hand/right hand situation. Not surprising it was resolved quickly as predicted in the article.

It would be nice if the App Store contacts Selig had been working with had the ability to ”capture” his update submission, which almost certainly was routed to/reviewed/rejected by someone unfamiliar with the work-out agreement.
 
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PowerBook-G5

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2013
1,243
1,179
The United States of America
Like Twitter, the majority of Reddit's users don't post to Reddit. They upvote and sometimes comment. By charging for something the minority of users do, he can use those users which are, to the reddit community, power users to fund the development of Apollo which is for most people free to use at least in their eyes.

Also, I'm pretty sure that users who don't purchase Apollo Pro can still post to help-subreddits, such as those pertaining to suicide and depression. The developer is definitely a good guy.
 
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coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,840
5,101
Vancouver, BC
I mean, I get this for local push, but for server push? That stuff costs money and is a PITA if you try to roll your own. Trust me. By doing this Apple is basically telling developers "Host it for free and make up for it by ramming ads down people's throats while selling their private information."

I agree that developers should have the option of monetizing features that cost them extra money. That's just logical. When push notifications are not used at all, it doesn't cost Apple anything. Yet in-app purchases put 30% into Apple's pocket, so this is good for Apple, too... revenue aligned with resource usage.
[doublepost=1540861792][/doublepost]
It's not exactly monetizing the device's push notification system. It's monetizing his servers that send out the push requests. Apple should be a bit clearer. But it's reasonable that they disallow that too.
[doublepost=1540857095][/doublepost]
I agree, it's super cheesy how they tried to monetize YouTube like that. I refuse to buy it out of principle. I can just leave my phone on the YouTube webpage, not gonna pay for it.

Agreed. There should not be rules around monetizing built-in features, especially if they cost developers extra money to support. What should always be disallowed is developers _bypassing_ system-provided features. For example, developers should not be allowed to implement their own notification system.
 
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johannnn

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2009
1,878
1,678
Sweden
What server cost? Reddit’s own servers? His own servers? I guess I don’t really understand how this works.
 
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adammusic

macrumors 6502
Jun 6, 2007
411
165
Used to love Apollo until I realized that you have to pay just to create an actual post from the app. I can under stand charging for the push notifications because of the need to maintain a server but such a basic feature should be free.

Wait what?
I don’t pay anything to post.
Please explain...
 
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titans1127

macrumors 65816
Mar 10, 2009
1,044
194
Wait what?
I don’t pay anything to post.
Please explain...
It's been a few months since I have used the app but you are able to leave comments on existing posts or reply to communes comment but you can not create you own post in a sub-reddit without donating first.
 
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LosLoco

macrumors regular
Nov 28, 2012
106
79
What server cost? Reddit’s own servers? His own servers? I guess I don’t really understand how this works.

There's two different ways of having notifications.

One where your phone checks in at a set interval for new notifications. These are "free", as it's just your device checking in at e.g. Reddit's servers. But it uses a small amount of battery each time, which is why the interval is often set a bit longer.

The other is having a server doing the check at much shorter intervals and sending a push notification to your phone the second a notification from e.g. Reddit is there. The upside here is no battery used on your phone and instant notifications, but it requires a dedicated server, which costs money to both buy and keep going.

That's where the 'struggle' has been for the developer and why he's introduced a second paid plan for push notifications. Initially push notifications was the only benefit, but Apple rejected it, and they worked together to find a plan, that Apple could agree to, so now the second paid plan (Ultra) also includes stuff like theming of the apps.

This got accepted by Apple, but obviously somebody didn't get the memo and pulled it, even though it had been thoroughly vetted (which is why it is up again) :)
 
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T5BRICK

macrumors G3
Aug 3, 2006
8,166
2,179
Oregon
Glad this has been resolved. I wouldn’t use Reddit nearly as much as I do if Apollo didn’t exist. I paid for pro shortly after downloading the app and later “tipped” the developer because it’s just so well made. I’ll be paying for Apollo Ultra as well; it’s worth it to me.
 
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