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Apple finally approves update for premium email app "Hey"


Apple is realizing how important app developers are to the company. On Monday, with WWDC the backdrop, the tech giant announced that it will allow developers to challenge rulings made by Apple against them. The company will not delay app updates that include a bug fix while a developer appeal is taking place. This is all happening during the “Hey” saga that has painted Apple in a bad light just when the European Commission (EC) and the House Judiciary Committee are investigating Apple over the 30% fee it collects on in-app purchases (which drops to 15% after the first year of a subscription). Because Apple doesn’t allow the sideloading of apps, the probes are examining whether Apple has violated antitrust laws.

Apple allows premium email app “Hey” to be listed on the App Store after controversial rejections

Last week, Apple originally approved an initial listing for the $99 premium email app “Hey” but rejected a bug fix update thus kicking the app out of the store. That’s because the developers did not include a way for iPhone and iPad users to pay for the $99 subscription through the App Store. Without a way to run the app through Apple’s App Store payment system, the company can not collect its cut from “Hey” subscriptions. David Heinemeier Hansson, the CTO of “Hey” developer Basecamp, said that he’s would rather “burn this house down myself” than pay Apple it’s 30% cut.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller noted that the app had been buggy, explaining the application for a bug fix. “You download the app and it doesn’t work, that’s not what we want on the store,” Schiller said. When another application from Basecamp to list “Hey” was rejected, Apple leaked it to the press first before telling the developer. In that letter, Apple said that Basecamp’s apps “have not contributed any revenue to the App Store over the last eight years.” Not exactly what developers want to hear from Apple.

On its website Monday, Apple wrote, “First, developers will not only be able to appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines, but will also have a mechanism to challenge the guideline itself. Second, for apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues.” So reversing course, Apple approved the “Hey” app update with the bug fixes as Basecamp tries to figure out a way to allow Apple to take its 30% cut.
“Hey” is offering a free two-week trial during which you can test out the app to see whether it is worth the cost. Basecamp’s Heinemeier Hansson told The Verge that 25,000 people have already received invites with a waitlist of another 100,000. “We’d hoped for 20,000 users in the first month,” the CTO said.”There’s a good chance by the end of next week, we’ll have 200,000 people on the service. That’s what I would like to focus on.”
Last week, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said “Because of the market power that Apple has, it is charging exorbitant rents — highway robbery, basically — bullying people to pay 30 percent or denying access to their market. It’s crushing small developers who simply can’t survive with those kinds of payments. If there were real competition in this marketplace, this wouldn’t happen.” With the EC and the House both probing Apple and the App Store for antitrust violations, the “Hey” saga could not have come at a worse time for the company. Apple is trying to control the narrative by announcing yesterday that developers can still have apps listed while challenging Apple’s decisions. Additionally, Apple said on Monday that iOS 14 will allow users to change their default email, browser, and email apps.

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