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Apple, HEY, and the Path Forward

Monday, June 22, 2020

Late Friday night, on June 19th, Apple’s App Store Review Board surprised us by approving the pending bug fixes to the HEY iOS app that were held up all last week:

Apple to HEY from the App Store Review Board

(The tweets they refer to were the olive-branch tweets we extended just two hours earlier that night)

A sincere thanks to Apple for their change of heart.

First thing this morning, we released the newly-approved 1.0.2 bug-fix update to our customers. A win for Apple, a win for us, and a win for our customers.

But of course 1.0.2 isn’t the last version we intend to ship to the App Store. We want to continue shipping updates, and putting in our best effort to make the HEY App for iOS the best it can be. But before we’re definitively allowed to do that, Apple asked us make some changes.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, told us the kind of changes he’d love to see us make. His primary objection was “You download the app and it doesn’t work, that’s not what we want on the store.”

Okay. We thought we were following Appleʼs unwritten rules for multi-platform SaaS products: No signups, no links, no mentions of where to sign up. Plenty of applications in the App Store work exactly like this today, including long-approved apps from Netflix, Google, Salesforce, and Nintendo.

But then Schiller said “One way that HEY could have gone...is to offer a free or paid version of the app with basic email reading features on the App Store, then separately offered an upgraded email service that worked with the Hey app on iOS on its own website.”

So we got down to it, and worked the weekend to get an update on Apple’s desk Monday morning. Our team did a great job implementing the product changes that Schiller asked for, and first thing this morning, right after we shipped 1.0.2 to our customers, we submitted 1.0.3 to the App Store for approval.

This new version introduces a new free option for the iOS app. Now users can sign up directly in-app for a free, temporary, randomized @hey.com email address that works for 14 days. Think of it like a temporary SIM card you buy when traveling. Or for when you don’t want to give out your real email address, like a short term “for sale” listing, like Craigslist does it.

We’ve also accelerated our multi-user HEY for Work offering where the company pays but the employees don’t. This brings HEY in line with Basecamp, and dozens of other high profile multi-platform enterprise offerings that have been permitted in the App Store for a decade. We just completed onboarding multiple companies, we’re running all our Basecamp company email through HEY, and thousands of businesses have joined the HEY for Work waitlist already. HEY for Work uses the same iOS app as everyone else.

So now we offer this new free option, and the multi-user HEY for Work — all in the same iOS app. We’re confident these improvements will satisfy Schiller’s concerns about both the user experience and business model. Hopefully this paves a predictable path for other multi-platform SaaS services like ours as well.

We care as much about the user experience as Apple, and this is a good compromise. Apple’s iOS customers can sign up for a new free version of HEY, and we can continue to take the same exceptional care of all our customers, regardless of platform. Plus, iOS customers get access to a popular new email service with all the bug fixes and new features we’ve committed to pursue, without having to pay higher prices than customers on other platforms.

And Phil, we set aside an amazing @hey.com address for you. Free for life, our gift to you. Lemme know.

Jason Fried’s signature
Jason Fried
CEO, Basecamp, the makers of HEY
jason@hey.com


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