Reddit, the expansive digital community that prides itself as the “front page of the Internet,” is a platform that connects millions of users from across the globe. An essential part of this interconnectedness is the API (Application Programming Interface). In essence, APIs allow various apps and websites to interact with Reddit’s trove of data, serving as a bridge between the platform and third-party applications such as today’s focus, Apollo.
The Apollo iOS App
For the past two years, Apollo, an iOS app crafted to provide a seamless Reddit experience, has been my digital companion. I’ve invested in lifetime licenses for both Apollo Pro and Apollo Ultra, making Apollo more than just another app on my phone – it’s my digital home.
But, my favourite application is under threat. The new Reddit API changes set to be enforced in July 2023 may signal an unfortunate end for Apollo. Christian Selig, the mastermind behind the app, projects a staggering $20 million per year to be paid to Reddit to allow Apollo to work with the new API.
This is a significant challenge for any third-party app, but for Apollo, a platform born out of one developer’s passion, the situation is dire. Even if these funds were miraculously procured, the new API comes with more restrictions, notably blocking access to NSFW (Not Safe For Work) content—a crucial feature for some users.
The impact of these changes is widespread, affecting other applications like Stellar, a Reddit client for macOS that I also support. These drastic measures coincide with speculation of Reddit’s plan to go public later this year, suggesting a conscious effort to be more advertiser friendly.
This brings us to a critical junction: what does the future hold for Apollo? Will it adapt, perhaps to cater to a Reddit alternative? Or will this cause a user exodus from Reddit’s platform?
In the past, alternatives to Reddit have emerged, like VOAT. However, despite its initial promise, VOAT was shut down in 2020, citing a funding issue, something that Reddit itself may be trying to solve with the new API restrictions. Could a new contender rise from these ashes?
As a loyal supporter of Apollo, I have no intention of seeking a refund from Mr. Selig for my lifetime licenses. The term “lifetime” refers to the life of the app, and this contract has indeed been honoured. But it’s a heart-breaking prospect to witness the potential decline of a beloved platform due to external changes.
A call to action?
What can we do to protest these upcoming API changes? In 2021, numerous popular subreddits were set to private by their moderators following Reddit’s controversial hiring of a contentious politician causing Reddit to cut ties with that person. Perhaps a similar approach could be taken to express discontent with these changes.
In an increasingly digital age, we need platforms that honour user experience. The situation with Apollo serves as a stark reminder of the fragile ecosystems in which our online communities exist, especially when your product is at the hands of a third-party company. As we face an uncertain future, one thing is clear: the spirit of online communities and the passion of developers like Christian Selig will continue to drive innovation, no matter the challenges that lie ahead.