After facing a wave of backlash and protests from its user community, Reddit has finally taken action to disable certain third-party apps. Apollo, an iOS app that had become a symbol of the recent protests against Reddit’s upcoming API pricing, is now unable to load any content from the platform. Users are greeted with a never-ending spinning wheel when attempting to access the app. Developer Christian Selig confirmed that Reddit was responsible for the shutdown, expressing his disappointment in not being given prior notice. Another popular app, BaconReader, also displays an error message indicating a client error. Sync, an Android app, has also ceased to function, showing an error page. Although an error and complaints about functionality were reported for the app reddit is fun (RIF), at the time of writing, content was still accessible on the app for one Verge staff member when not logged in, although logging into their account was not possible.
This outcome was not unexpected, as Selig had previously testified that the new API pricing would cost him an estimated $20 million annually. He had announced the impending shutdown of Apollo at the end of June. The timing was especially bitter, as just a few days prior, Apple had featured Apollo during its WWDC 2023 keynote. Other developers also faced the prospect of shutting down their apps.
The user community reacted with outrage towards Reddit’s treatment of Selig and other popular third-party app developers, leading to organized protests in an attempt to force Reddit to reconsider its position. However, despite over 8,000 communities going dark in protest, Reddit stood firm, resulting in some apps being officially discontinued. It should be noted that not all third-party apps will be removed from the platform. Narwhal, Relay, and Now will still be available, although they will eventually transition to a subscription-based model.
When contacted for comment, Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt referred to the company’s updated fact sheet on API changes, as well as a post from a Reddit admin acknowledging the enforcement of new API rate limits. The fact sheet had been updated on Friday, and according to its information, the rate limits were scheduled to take effect on July 1st. However, it remains unclear which time zone Reddit was using as a reference, as the limits were enforced a few hours earlier than anticipated.
The Uncertain Future of Reddit for Apollo’s Developer
In a recent interview, Selig was asked about his plans to continue using Reddit after the shutdown of Apollo. He responded with uncertainty, stating that he is currently using the platform much less. The decision to discontinue his app, which had gained significant popularity among Reddit users, clearly had an impact on his personal relationship with the platform.
Reddit’s decision to disable certain third-party apps has come in the wake of community outrage and protests. Despite efforts to persuade Reddit to reconsider its API pricing and treatment of developers, the platform remained resolute. This move has resulted in the shutdown of apps like Apollo, BaconReader, and Sync. While some apps will still be available, the future of Reddit remains uncertain for the affected developers and their user communities.