September 26, 2023

Your Favorite Reddit App Is About to Shut Down

Reddit apps

Reddit has been a popular source for news and community discussions for years, fueled by the wide variety of third-party clients for iPhone, Android, Windows, and other platforms. Unfortunately, that’s now coming to an end.

Back in April, Reddit announced that changes were coming to its API — the service that third-party Reddit apps and services rely on to load content and perform actions. The initial announcement was vague, but it was clear that Reddit planned to charge developers more money for API access. Even though third-party Reddit apps bring more interaction and comments to the platform than there would be otherwise, none of them display the same advertisements as the official Reddit app and desktop site. The new API terms also block AI models from being trained on Reddit’s data.

The announcement immediately sparked controversy with Reddit users, as it wasn’t clear if third-party clients like Apollo for Reddit, Sync for Reddit, rif is fun, and other apps would be allowed to stay in their current form. Eventually, Reddit shared specific pricing information with some app developers, which was significantly more expensive — the creator of Apollo for Reddit said it would cost almost $2 million per month to keep the app running.

Expensive API access isn’t sustainable for most apps, especially since several are free or a one-time purchase, so many apps (if not all of them) are shutting down before the new API pricing goes into effect. The creator of Apollo for Reddit said, “Apollo had an incredible run, I met the coolest people, by my last count talked with folks over 15,000 times in our subreddit about Apollo, and raised over $80,000 for my local animal shelter through Apollo. I feel incredibly fortunate.”

The developer of Reddit is Fun also said, “The Reddit API will cost money, and the pricing announced today will cost apps like Apollo $20 million per year to run. RIF may differ but it would be in the same ballpark. And no, RIF does not earn anywhere remotely near this number.” The creator of Sync for Reddit announced, “To be absolutely clear I really don’t want to close Sync. Working on this app has been a labour of love and my life for the past decade but with how things stand I can’t see any other way.”

Twitter enacted a similar API crackdown earlier this year, as Elon Musk (Twitter’s current owner) was hoping to boost the company’s profits. The changes resulted in nearly every third-party app shutting down, including Tweetbot, Twitterrific, and others. Some developers responded by adapting their apps for Mastodon — the developers of Tweetbot later released Ivory, a Mastodon app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Twitter’s API changes also forced emergency services offline, until a special exception was carved out for them in May.

It’s frustrating to see two significant social platforms cut off third-party apps within a few months of each other, but that’s just capitalism working as intended. Musk has been desperate to squeeze more money out of Twitter, and Reddit is hoping to become a publicly-traded company with a more profitable ads business before the end of 2023.

Source: Reddit, Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Reddit Sync, MacRumors, Engadget, Reuters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *