Hey’s App Store Drama

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Apple rejects App Store updates, mandating in-app subscription - The Verge launched yesterday. The new email service offers an alternative to Gmail for $99 per year. To continue using the app on iOS, you have to sign up through the company’s website. Apple initially approved the app on Friday, according to Heinemeier Hansson, but upon review of a bug fix update on Monday, Hey was rejected for not including an option to sign up within the app itself. A second version was rejected on Tuesday.


While Apple told The Verge that apps must offer an in-app subscription option, the company does make exceptions for a variety of apps. Those exceptions include music, video, and magazine apps, among a few others, but email apps are not one of the approved exceptions. Despite this, some subscription email apps, such as Newton, are available in the App Store and don’t offer their service via in-app purchase.

This is a perfect example of why side-loading should be an option on iOS. Sure, make them notarize the app like they would do on the Mac and block them from using Apple Pay for signing up in the side-loaded app or something, but this restriction is kind of nuts.

The App Store is wonderful in many ways, and it helps make sure that people’s devices are safer than they would be if anything at all was allowed, but I think there should be a workaround for apps that can’t comply with every App Store guideline.

Also, the fact that some apps can do what Hey is doing and some can not, even apps that offer the same type of service, is what makes this standard impossible to comply with.

Finally, because I know it’s coming, I’m not implying Apple should be legally compelled to allow side-loading. I’m simply saying I think they should loosen their grip a little on what business models should be allowed to function on their platform. Maybe they do that by letting us install appr safely outside the App Store, or it's by allowing merchants to do the customer acquisition themselves, process payments themselves, and then make their app follow all non-business model rules to be safely distributed on the App Store.