Apple’s App Store rules have once again come under scrutiny, this time due to its rejection of the standalone iOS app for Hey Calendar, the latest feature of the premium email service Hey. The rejection came as a result of non-paying users being unable to perform any actions within the app. While Hey users are required to sign up through a browser, Apple’s rules stipulate that most paid services must allow users to pay and sign up through the app itself, ensuring Apple receives a percentage of the revenue. This controversial rule has faced criticism and even sparked antitrust battles. Interestingly enough, this is not the first time Hey has faced such rejection from Apple. In fact, the company’s original iOS app for its email service was rejected four years ago for the same reason, leading to accusations of Apple’s bullying tactics.
After several days of negotiations between Hey and Apple’s App Store Review Board, a resolution was finally reached. Apple executive Phil Schiller proposed a creative solution: Hey would offer a free option for the iOS app, allowing new users to sign up directly. However, there was a catch. Users who signed up via the iOS app would be given a temporary randomized email address that would only be valid for 14 days. After that, they would have to upgrade to a paid account. Currently, Hey users can only pay for their accounts through the browser. This solution was considered a victory for Hey, as it allowed them to maintain their desired business model while still complying with Apple’s rules.
Following the controversy surrounding Hey, Apple made a slight change to its App Store rules. It stated that free companion apps to certain types of paid web services were not required to have an in-app payment mechanism. However, it is worth noting that the list of services mentioned in this exception did not include a calendar app. This list includes services like VOIP, cloud storage, web hosting, and email. This omission raised concerns and questions, leaving Hey and others wondering why a calendar app was not included in the exception.
The rejection of Hey Calendar did not sit well with co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson, who found Apple’s decision insulting. Not only was the rejection similar to what they had experienced with their original iOS app, but the process was also handled in a seemingly dismissive manner. Hansson described the experience as Apple resorting to bullying tactics by delivering rejections in phone calls with anonymous representatives. According to him, the calls were filled with vague threats, leaving Hey with the impression that it was their wallet or kneecaps at stake.
Despite the resolution reached with Apple, Hey plans to challenge Apple’s decision. However, the exact strategy they will employ remains unknown. It is clear that Hey wants to challenge Apple’s App Store rules and seek a change that accommodates their business model. The outcome of this battle could have far-reaching consequences, not only for Hey but also for other app developers who have faced similar issues with Apple’s guidelines.
Apple’s App Store rules have been subject to antitrust scrutiny in various countries. Critics argue that the rules give Apple an unfair advantage as a platform owner and ultimately limit competition. The Hey Calendar controversy adds to the ongoing debate surrounding Apple’s control over the App Store and the fees it charges for in-app purchases and subscriptions. As the fight between Hey and Apple unfolds, it may shine a spotlight on the antitrust concerns surrounding the App Store and potentially lead to further regulatory action.
The rejection of Hey Calendar by Apple’s App Store highlights the ongoing challenges and controversies surrounding the company’s rules and guidelines. While a resolution was reached, Hey’s co-founder remains determined to challenge Apple’s decision and fight for a change in the rules that accommodate their business model. The outcome of this battle could have far-reaching implications for the future of the App Store and the relationship between Apple and app developers.