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Why one email app went to war with Apple—and why neither one is right

Enlarge / The login screen for Hey on an iPhone XS. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson launched a firestorm of public criticism of Apple after Apple rejected an update to Basecamp’s new email app. Hansson’s tweet thread and the ensuing controversy surfaced days before Apple’s annual developer conference, and amidst news that the European Commission has opened an antitrust probe of Apple and the App Store.

The app in question is Hey, an email tool that eschews tradition to offer a better experience for a certain type of user. It requires users to pay a $99 annual subscription fee to access its features and services but offers a free trial period.

Hey’s 1.0 version was approved for launch on the App Store just this week, but it came under scrutiny at Apple when Basecamp attempted to deliver a 1.0.1 update with bug fixes. As events unfolded, a call and email came from Apple that indicated Hey would have to take steps toward making its subscription available through Apple’s own billing system and in-app-payments platform. Otherwise, the app would be delisted from the store.

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