Apollo, a very popular 3rd party Reddit client for iOS announced today that they will be closing down as a result of the Reddit’s soon to be implemented changes to the API and prohibitive pricing which make it infeasible for them to continue to exist.
Why it matters: Apollo is the most popular
Open Source and Privacy respecting reddit client for iOS. For those who use it, it allowed a superior (ad free, user respecting, reasonably private) alternative to Reddit’s official advertisement-cluttered, ‘engagement’ driven, proprietary app. All 3rd party clients which use the API will be affected, not just Apollo, and we will likely see many more shutting down in the coming months if nothing changes.
Why it is happening: Reddit recently announced last minute changes to the API (I believe they gave developers something like 30 days notice) which appear to many as an indirect way to eliminate or at the very least undermine/handicap 3rd party Reddit clients. The main change is charging a prohibitively high fee for using the Reddit API. At the same time they’ve introduced some other changes which will handicap 3rd party apps (for instance prohibiting NSFW content outside of the official app).
It has been suggested by many that this is likely an attempt by Reddit to make themselves look more attractive to investors ahead of the upcoming IPO. Seen from this context its a win-win for them, either they force 3rd party developers to pay exorbitant fees or they force these app developers out of business and gain users in the official app.
What can be done: Reddit is a corporation, with an advertising and engagement based business model, seeking to maximize profit. Users, moderators, third party app developers, don’t have a lot of formal power, despite being what Reddits value is based on. That said, informally the community does have some leverage (since Reddit and all social media depends on our attention and our content for it’s value).
There will be a ‘blackout’ of many many subreddits beginning June 12. This would be a good time to take a break from Reddit, or better yet, for those of us who use Reddit regularly, it is a good time to re-evaluate our relationship to it, and reflect on whether it makes sense to cut back on it or eliminate it from our digital diet (or at least our mobile digital diet).
Personally I don’t foresee leaving Reddit entirely in the short term, but I do plan to stop using it on mobile (when Infinity (android) and Apollo (iOS) cease working), and interact with it solely through a browser with ad & tracker blocking. I definitely don’t plan to install their tracker/ad laden proprietary mobile app, and will seek to limit the amount of time I use Reddit (this is just healthy, regardless of recent changes).
The announcement and the Apollo Developer’s long explanation of the events that led to this can be found here