Several Reddit clients including Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync and ReddPlanet are shutting down
Multiple third-party clients for Reddit have announced that they are shutting down at the end of the month. This includes the likes of Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync and ReddPlanet.
We recently reported about the absurd pricing for API that Reddit has in plans. It claims that third-party apps are costing the company millions of dollars in revenue, when they access the site, and wants developers to pay the company. Reddit had revealed that Apollo for iOS makes billions of requests, and according to the developer's calculations this could cost them $20 Million a year, which is not just ridiculous but practically unaffordable.
What do third-party apps for reddit do?
Some of our readers were confused about why this is a big deal, and what third-party apps are used for. Here's a brief explanation about their importance.
Reddit's official mobile app is free to download, which is the only positive thing to say about it. It's little more than a dumpster fire that is riddled with ads, the UI is terrible, and it's not exactly the smoothest in performance either. And if you try to access Reddit via your mobile web browser, it usually displays a pop-up nagging you to download the official app.
Third-party apps created by indie developers allow users to browse Reddit on their mobile phones, there are some apps for desktop computers too. You can think of them as browsers with additional features that offer a polished experience. These apps are usually free to download, and don't display ads that Reddit's official app does (multiple times in a page). Such apps usually have a much better design than the original app's interface. Third-party clients also offer a great deal of customization to personalize the browsing experience. For example, you could use a compact layout to only display text content on the feed, or if you like images or videos, you can use cards with a thumbnail or gallery view.
There is more to it, many third-party apps for Reddit also support accessibility features to help users with various disabilities to browse the website, and interact with other users. The official Reddit app lacks these features, how could a person, say with poor vision, use the app to access the site, without some sort of screen reader features?
Apps like Apollo are very popular among subreddit moderators who use them to manage their forum, i.e. to combat spam, view reports, etc. Many moderators have spoken out to say that the official app lacks these tools, which would ultimately make their work cumbersome, or even impossible. The end of support for the free API that third-party tools use to access will also kill the bots that were created by users, including account scrubbers that one may use to overwrite their comments and post history instead of just deleting their account. There's also the fact that Reddit wants to remove NSFW content from the free API tier, which may take away the freedom of users to share some stuff, or could kill several subreddits altogether.
If Reddit has its way with the new API pricing, it would spell the end for all third-party apps. This move could likely kill browser extensions such as Reddit Enhancement Suite, and potentially end support for the legacy interface that can be accessed via old.reddit.com as well as front-ends like Teddit.
Imagine how you would feel if all browsers were taken away from you, and the only alternative to go online was to use Internet Explorer. That's how bad this is, if users stop using these apps, they will quit using Reddit. Now that you may have understood the importance of third-party apps for Reddit, here's some bad news.
Reddit tries to blame Apollo developer for threatening them
Reddit held a conference call with 15 developers from the community yesterday, and apparently none of these were third-party app developers. The company had initially promised to reconsider the API pricing, but now Reddit seems to have backtracked on its word and is unwilling to negotiate the prices for the API.
According to some notes shared on r/ModCoord, Reddit will exempt any non-commercial accessibility-minded app, bot, or tool (from the API rate limits). Mod tools and bots affected by the API change will also be exempted. The company says it will add accessibility features and mod tools in its apps.
The most bizarre part of the post is the one where Reddit accused Christian Selig, the creator of Apollo, for threatening them. The company claims that Apollo threatened it, saying "they'll make it easy if Reddit gave them $10 Million." It also explained that the prices were worked out to $1/month per user, and if Apollo doesn't pay that, it hits $3/month.
Reddit defended its decision against allowing access to NSFW content, claiming that legal requirements that require users to verify their age before they view mature content poses a problem for the site, especially now that some US States have passed a law making this mandatory.
Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync and ReddPlanet are shutting down
A few hours after the notes were shared on Reddit, Selig published a detailed post on r/apolloapp to explain his side of the story. The developer found it absurd that Steve Huffman (u/spez), the CEO of Reddit, had mentioned in yesterday's call that "This guy behind the scenes is coercing us. He's threatening us."
Selig noted that many comments had suggested Reddit should just buy Apollo like they did with Alien Blue, if it costs them a lot in terms of revenue. He explained that this had made him bring up the topic on a call with Reddit. He has also released a transcript of the phone call, and a portion of the audio, as proof of what happened.
(Note: Recording a call if one party consents is legal in Canada.)
It does seem like Selig was joking about Reddit's claims that Apollo had been costing them $20 Million a year, and he had asked the company (jokingly) to pay him $10 Million to make Apollo go quiet. The Reddit representative on the call initially perceived that as a threat, but apologized immediately after Selig said it was a joke, and he was referring to the API calls to quiet down.
However, Reddit seems to have twisted the story to frame him as the villain, they "misunderstood" it as blackmail as if he had said, pay me and I will remain quiet about the issue. This was no doubt done to paint him in a bad light to take the attention away from the rest of the third-party apps that have been raising an uproar on the social network. That's a good corporate move, in fact I wouldn't expect anything otherwise when money is involved.
Reddit's CEO is set to conduct an AMA today to clear the confusion about the latest API updates, accessibility mod bots, and third-party mod tools.
Unfortunately, it may have already caused the damage. Apollo for Reddit is shutting down on June 30th, and it is not the only one.
It is unclear what the future holds for open source apps like RedReader, Infinity for Reader and other apps.
Several subreddits are going dark on June 12th to protest the changes
Thousands of subreddits have announced that they are going dark on June 12th to protest the upcoming changes to Reddit's API pricing and restrictions related to NSFW content. Some communities say their forums will go private, while others will be completely inaccessible for 48 hours, until July 14th. A few subreddits have confirmed that they will shut down indefinitely until Reddit decides to reverse its decision. As it stands, over 2700 subreddits have joined the protests, and many more are signing up every day.
Reddit lives because of its users who make the site what it is, and moderators who volunteer to keep their users safe. They provide their content and discussions for free, while the company pockets its revenue from ads, and by selling Reddit Premium and Coins. If you take away the users, Reddit dies. The protest is to highlight this very thing.
Popular subreddits like aww, gaming, music, pics, todayilearned that have over 30 million users are among the participating communities in the blackout. You can view a list of the subreddits that are joining the fight at r/ModCoord.
It is worth noting that the notes from yesterday's fiasco mentions that Reddit is "open to postponing the API timeline to launch modtooling, if (they) agree to keep their subreddits open. This essentially translates to the protest is working, and Reddit is backing from its stance.
As for alternatives to Reddit, Lemmy, which is a part of the Fediverse (like Mastodon) seems to be a popular alternative among reddit users who are planning to ditch the site. I haven't used it much to recommend it. That's the problem, Reddit is a unique site, it has communities for virtually every topic and genre.
Maybe you can share some good alternative sites with us?Advertisement