One of the more brilliant uses of iMessage stickers won't be around for much longer. The creator of Phoneys — a sticker set that replaces a friend's blue text message bubble with a fake one containing some sort of funny phrase — said today that Apple has asked him to completely change the app before this coming Thursday, or else it'll be pulled from the store.
The problem seems to be some combination of Phoneys using Apple's font and style and the company's disapproval of prank apps. It's not all that surprising — while Phoneys keeps its text message replacements good-natured, it's easy to imagine how some other sticker pack could take this concept and run with it to a much less appropriate place.
And at a basic level, the results of using Phoneys can be downright confusing for someone who doesn't really get how iMessage stickers work; really, they could probably be confusing for someone who does get how they work, just because of how seamless this pack looks.
Apple has apparently told Adam Howell, the sticker pack's creator, that Phoneys need to be updated to "[look] nothing like iMessage bubbles." They essentially have to be revamped to look more like "comic book cartoon bubbles," he writes.
That entirely breaks the concept of the sticker pack. Howell writes that he isn't sure what he's going to do — let Phoneys get pulled, so that those who already have it can continue to enjoy it in its current form, or update it so that he can continue to sell something that maintains Phoneys' original concept. "I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do," Howell writes. "Neither option is good."
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. As of Friday night, Phoneys remains at the top of the App Store's charts for paid sticker packs, a position that Howell says it's been in since attracting some attention on Wednesday. It's no surprise that people are into it — it's a legitimately clever idea — but its sounds like this'll be the last few days we see anything like it inside iMessage.