After a month of outrage, protests, and unrest from the community, Reddit has finally flipped the switch to shut down some third-party apps.
Apollo, an iOS app that became a rallying point for the recent protests against Reddit’s imminent API pricing, no longer loads any content from the platform. When I open it up, all I see is a spinning wheel. Developer Christian Selig confirmed to me that Reddit is the one that turned things off, not him: “would have been nice to have been given a time,” he says in an email to The Verge.
BaconReader, another popular app, shows an error message for me: “Request failed: client error (429).” When I tap the “Tap to refresh” link, I just get the same error message.
Sync, an Android app, has stopped working too, displaying this message: “Error loading page: 401.” We’ve additionally found a tweet showing an error and Lemmy comments about lack of functionality in a fourth app, reddit is fun (RIF), but at the time we published this article, one Verge staffer could still see content on the app when not logged in. (Developer Andrew Shu told me that there’s a reason for that.) My colleague wasn’t able to log into his account, though.
We knew this moment was coming: shortly after Selig testified in May that the API pricing would cost him about $20 million per year, he said he’d be shutting it down at the end of June. (The timing stung; a few days before, Apple had featured Apollo during its WWDC 2023 keynote.) Other developers said they’d need to close down as well.
Users were outraged at the company’s treatment of Selig and the developers of some other popular third-party apps, organizing protests to try and get Reddit to budge. But despite more than 8,000 communities going dark, Reddit held its ground, and now some apps are officially kaput. (Not every app is going away: Narwhal, Relay, and Now will still be available, though they will eventually become subscription-only.)
When reached for comment, Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt pointed to the company’s fact sheet about its API changes, which was just updated on Friday, as well as a Friday evening post from a Reddit admin confirming that the new API rate limits would be enforced “shortly.” (According to the fact sheet, the rate limits were technically supposed to go into effect on July 1st. I’m not sure what time zone Reddit was measuring that by, but if we’re basing it on US time zones, that means that Reddit decided enforce the limits a few hours ahead of when it said it would.)
This week, I asked Selig if he planned to still use Reddit after Apollo shuts down. “Honestly, not sure,” he said. “I’m certainly using it a lot less.”
Update July 1st, 5:32PM ET: Added link to explanation of why RIF may still load posts when you’re logged out.