Again, Hey was really hyped, 70,000 on waiting list alone. They dont even need any of these marketing to get customers. Name me an SaaS product that had these kind of traction baring FAANG.
But this letter, the initial tone from DHH, and no further complains about App Store really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t want to give developers my billing info. I even have to use a special throwaway number at Home Depot. There’s no way I’d trust hundreds of developers with that info when I don’t even trust a F500 company.
I don’t want to download apps that literally do nothing except kick me out to a website for a billing transaction, especially a recurring one with no way in app to cancel that subscription. If I delete the app, I want to get promoted to cancel the subscription.
Apple has some major issues with the App Store (search, discovery, business models, % cut, just as a few), but in this case I actually agree with their principles.
Android is much more open and is a spyware free for all.
The Internet is like a failed state. Apple is like a walled and privately patrolled compound where the wealthy have taken shelter. Outside the compound everything is spying on you and if you get something from a random site there's a decent chance it contains malware.
Tech-savvy users think nothing is wrong and wonder why everyone shelters in the compound, but they're like the street kids who grew up with hard-earned street smarts. They know how to avoid trouble and know how to fight. People like that can live on the street but it's no place to raise a family.
I agree. But I'm not ready to pay $142/year instead of $99 for that convenience.
You'd hope the bigger players - particularly ones who have hit these roadblocks - to become advocates for developers. Perhaps working in some sort of ongoing developer agency/evangelist fashion would be good for all involved.
If the guidelines are transparent and fairly applied, it's up to you as a developer whether to play their game. But it is ridiculous that small developers are literally spinning the Wheel of Fortune every time they submit an app that does exactly what Google, Netflix, Amazon, &c. are doing.
And speaking as a user, I bought a mail app called Spark. It's great. But now I have to worry, what if Apple decides that the next release breaks their rules? What if they pull the app entirely?
Capricious and unjust application of the rules is bad for users as well as developers.
If the answer is "no" or yes for the last one, that'd go pretty far against my sense of justice. But of course we're talking about american laws.
There is literally no evidence at all that developers are spinning the wheel of fortune or that Apple is capricious or unjust.
Given that number of developers, hundreds of mistakes every year would be an amazing track record for Apple.
Okay then. That settles the matter. It's a mass delusion!
What I’m saying is that in order to make these claims you’d need to be able to show that it’s more than just a normal rate of error.
If you just take a few reports (or indeed even a few hundred) and ignore the size of the sample, then the conclusion is likely to be flawed.
Do you actually know what the rate of ‘capricious’ rejections is? I have seen a few 10s of cases reported, and many of them aren’t actually capricious, although a few clearly are.
My guess is that the chances of a capricious rejection of an App Store submission is less than 1 in 1,000,000.
I’d say that is neither unjust, nor capricious, and simply a reflection of scale.
But I claim that when they make a mistake in the form of applying the rules inequitably, get called out, and double down on applying the rules inequitably, that is not a mistake, that is capricious.
There may only be a small number of times they have been capricious, but they are not "making a mistake." They are applying the rules capriciously.
And while nobody is getting killed, the principle of justice is the same here as in our society. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
One person imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit and the police knew they didn't commit taints the entire justice system. It removes confidence for everyone.
It's the same principle here. Mistakes, fine. But applying the rules inequitably and doubling down on that even once taints the system for everyone.
TL;DR I agree that the system usually works. But for a mistake to be a mistake, Apple has to be prepared to fix the mistake, not double down on continuing to have different rules for different developers.
In the Hey case it does seem like Apple was simply applying it’s rules, and DHH didn’t quite understand them.
As for the justice system - all justice systems are radically tainted in this way.
No system has ever been created which does not have this problem, in all of human history.
If you are expecting Apple to achieve perfect justice, that is fair enough, but it’s also fair to acknowledge that it’s an unsolved problem.
It’s also simply not reasonable for developers to be ‘in fear of capricious rejections’.
It’s fairly predictable, or easily resolved in most cases.
I was far from simply applying the rules. The only documented rule they were applying was the one, which states that you must use Apple's in-app purchase if you offer sign-up within the app. There are many high profile apps (Netflix, Kindle, Fastmail etc) that require paid memberships but which don't offer sign-up within the app (not to mention several apps that Basecamp already offer in the app store), and Apple has apparently been fine with those for a long time. For that reason, Basecamp had every reason to think that they were in compliance with both the letter of the guideline as well as Apple's interpretation of it.
The distinction between what Apple calls reader apps and whatever they deem an email app to be, as well as the consumer/business distinction that an Apple spokesperson also offered as an explanation to one publication, are not mentioned in the app store review guidelines, and Apple has not talked about them before, so how on earth can DHH be blamed for not understanding that these distinctions mattered?
I'd sincerely hope for a genuine change of heart at Apple and that Hey's resolution was just not the exception to the rule, but I seriously doubt so.
This new version introduces a new free option for the iOS app. Now users can sign up directly in-app for a free, temporary, randomized @hey.com email address that works for 14 days. Think of it like a temporary SIM card you buy when traveling. Or for when you don’t want to give out your real email address, like a short term “for sale” listing, like Craigslist does it.
This, in particular, is just ridiculous. A whole new feature, designed and developed in haste over a weekend, simply to satisfy Apple. But then we've had to do that ourselves in our own apps, and no doubt thousands of other devs have their own stories.
Even Office for iOS lets you view documents without paying and then you need a subscription to edit them.
Name one retailer that lets you hock your product in their store without paying anything?
I realize that Apple brands it as a store, but analogies to other "stores" don't really make sense. 90% of apps are free, so you could similarly ask "name one retailer who gives away 90% of their products for free".
To me, the App "Store" is part of the product you get when you buy an iPhone. When free apps are distributed through it, they aren't getting "free" placement, you (the iPhone customer) are getting the service you paid for when you bought the phone.
Is that free free or free up front with recurring revenue because your engagement is profitable for them via advertising or in-app purchases or both? Because those are not the same.
Apple. Google. Microsoft. Samsung.
> Who wants an app that you can’t do anything with when you download it?
People who want a client for their email service?
Hell, fastmail is even an email app, that has no in app purchases, and doesn't work without an account. (and is in the app store)
They make money, that is not up for debate.
(and yes, I know, their platform, their rules, etc etc, but nothing about that says people cannot fight it, and make it politically difficult to let them bleed money from people for a very basic service.)
1 - I have never used basecamp, or looked into it, so YMMV
Basecamp isn't free, but neither is an actual IPhone. In the case of the tools that are enabled on their platform, Basecamp's library doesn't require paying basecamp, and Apple's does.
And before someone responds that you can buy physical games for consoles, they still have to pay the console manufacturer for each physical game sold and the console manufacturers have to approve it.
Can I use BaseCamp’s APIs for free and create my own app? In fact, BaseCamp just announced that they will not allow third parties to integrate with their software that use their platform to track employees.
I am pretty sure that the rules about IAP make it very clear you have to charge the same price on and off the app store.
Apple has accepted plenty of those into the App Store before. Maybe you can't expect every application on the App Store to work after downloading. I don't own a Tesla, so why should I expect the Tesla app to do anything for me?
This is a bad take. Hey is a subscription service. If you buy a magazine from a newsagent and then sign up to a subscription from it, the newsagent doesn't get to claim 30% of the subscription fee.
The iOS app store could be 100% free apps, or even 100% apps that Apple doesn't get a cent of, and Apple still benefits from those apps existing.
This is about providing a consistent user experience, and a consistent user experience is why people trust the store and actually download things from it.
Back when I was working at an iOS developer, our leadership brain trust decided that the next version of our app should require the user to log in, or sign up for an account, and not let the user move forward unless they did so. I advised against this because, 1. Apple generally forbids the practice, 2. It's an unnecessary roadblock to getting into the app (having an account provided optional benefits), and 3. The engineering effort, plus the effort to rework later once Apple rejects it, was not worth it. I was unconvincing, so we did the work, submitted to the App Store, and lo and behold, it was rejected, and we had to scramble to re-work a "skip the login" function (in 6 point gray-on-black text) link into the flow. sigh
This was almost a decade ago. I guess my point is that this whole episode, fair or not, was totally predictable and avoidable. I bet that Hey had engineers internally shouting for the hills to not do this, who were being ignored. Maybe the company's leadership just wanted to pick a fight with Apple. Who would want to start such a fight, I don't know? If you're not a behemoth then there are only two possible ways that fight ends: 1. tears and engineering re-work, or 2. App Store banishment. It's just not worth it. Or maybe it is worth it if you're an exec and it's not your time being wasted but some poor engineer working over the weekend to scramble for a fix.
Basecamp appears be saying that the new implementation offers a better user experience.
Apple doesn't want to change its rules; Hey doesn't want to change how users sign up.
I guess I'm saying I'm more optimistic this will settle the dispute. But I agree, the feature is more aimed at Apple than users.
On the other hand, I can still view the slides without paying MS, but I have to have a subscription to edit it. I can’t pay for the subscription within the app. I think that’s a decent compromise.
He asked for a basic version that people can use without their service, and instead they implemented a variation on a 14 day demo.
Then they're posting publicly saying "We did what Apple asked for", without clearing this new solution (which isn't really what Apple asked for).
To be clear, I think Apple shouldn't be demanding a 30% cut here at all!
But this article feels like they're presenting their solution publicly in order to try to leverage Apple into accepting it.
To be clear, Apple asked them to do something that they surely must know isn't possible. Hey specifically doesn't offer IMAP/POP access because they layer enough features on top of email that IMAP and POP simply can't support.
For the same reasons they don't offer IMAP/POP access, they couldn't "just" add the "bring your own server" feature that Apple asked for. The Hey iOS app isn't an IMAP/POP client with fancy chrome; it's designed specifically to work with Hey's servers and nothing else.
Even if they shoe-horned an IMAP/POP client into the app to try and satisfy Apple, I think the user experience would end up far worse than what they've just implemented this weekend; and likely would violate other provisions of the App store.
If you end up signing up on HEY will the random address keep working?
Otherwise why use an address that will disappear no matter what. Obviously you can't use it to sign up on anything, or tell people to contact you at that address. It would only work for sending test emails between HEY and your other email addresses. I mean, who's going to do that? Is this really better for the end user?
Seriously. Apple 'really' is not your friend.
When the entire debacle started I was suddenly an optimist on:
- Mobile vs Web debate forcing gate keepers on giving equally competent choices for users & makers alike.
- Apple relooking and rethinking their 70-30% strategy
- Small & Indie Developers openly talking about the problems being at the mercy of Apple and Google's stores.
hmmm. Anyone guess what that could be?
- download the app
- use the free service for 14 days
- see their emails disappear on day 14
Doesn't seem like a great xp. Wouldn't it be better to be told straight away "you need an account for this"?
Also, Schiller has now instigated a wonderful tool for trolling and harassment.
Apple should just do the decent thing.
I am referring to communication with "Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing" after which Hey did an implementation of a functionality which clearly is not a "basic functionality", but a 14 day demo. After that the app is approved.
Would some random developer really get such treatment from Apple?