Email app Hey locks horns with Apple over in-app subscription

Hey app is available for a yearly subscription fee of $99.

| Updated on: Aug 20 2022, 21:32 IST
‘Hey’ is an emailing app that provides a simplified platform for users to organise their emails.
‘Hey’ is an emailing app that provides a simplified platform for users to organise their emails. (Play Store)
‘Hey’ is an emailing app that provides a simplified platform for users to organise their emails.
‘Hey’ is an emailing app that provides a simplified platform for users to organise their emails. (Play Store)

‘I love my email inbox' -- said no one ever. Emailing platforms, be it Yahoo, Gmail or even Apple's Mail, are an organisational mess. They show all the received emails, whether they are relevant to us or not, in a single space. This not only clutters the inbox but also makes it difficult for the users to find and respond to the emails that are important to them.

Enter: Hey app.

‘Hey' is an emailing app that provides a simplified platform for users to organise their emails. Inbox becomes the ‘Imbox' or important box and it has emails that are most relevant to the user. To make this happen, Hey has a screening area that lets you decide you can email you and who cannot when you first get an email from them.

To reduce the clutter, the app has various folders such as Paper Trails, which stores receipts and transactional emails. It also has an All Files folder that lets users access all of their files easily.

In addition to these separate folders and more, Hey has features that prevents companies that track which emails users open from doing so. It also lets users add private ‘Notes to self' to email treads. Additionally, users get 100GB of storage space.

But there's a catch.

All this sounds too good to be true. But it isn't. Hey emailing app, that has been developed by the makers of Basecamp, offers an easy to use and clutter free alternative to conventional emailing apps. And it is available on the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store for download. Users can also access it via the web, on Mac, Windows, Linux and iPadOS.

But there is a catch. The app isn't available for free.

Hey app offers the first 14 days of usage free after which users will have to shell out $99 ( 7,535 approx) for a year. But you don't have to pay that amount in a go. Users can choose to pay $8.25 per month ( 628). That sounds reasonable enough given that most emailing apps use user data and ads for providing a free service to the users.

Why the buzz all about?

The app launched on Monday and soon after it got into trouble with Apple for not introducing in-app purchases. Confused as to what's happening? Read on.

Hey app is a subscription-based email service. However, users cannot sign up for the service via its iOS-based app. Instead, they have to do so via its web-based platforms. This feature ran afoul with the App Store team which has threatened to remove the Hey app from the App Store if the company doesn't implement in-app subscription in the app.

Apple has a long standing rule that doesn't allow apps to link outside purchase options. Apps must opt for the in app purchases to offer subscriptions. However, apps have dodged this rule by not allowing users to opt for the subscription plans via their iOS-based apps. Netflix and Spotify don't allow their customers to sign up or subscribe to their services via their iOS based apps.

Hey app does the same thing, Basecamp CTO and co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson said in a statement to Protocol. Apple, as per report, stalled the update and later sent a notice to the company which said that since Hey app wasn't a “Reader” app, the company needed to make the in-app purchases feature available to all new users.

“We noticed that your app allows customers to access content, subscriptions, or features they have purchased elsewhere, but those items were not available as in-app purchases within the app," Apple wrote in a notice to the company, as reported by Protocol.

The company also told the publication that it made the mistake of approving the app when it didn't conform to its guidelines.

Now, the solution to the current standoff seems simple: include in-app subscription in Hey's iOS based app. But it isn't that simple. Hey app's developers don't want to pay a subscription fee of 15-30 percent to Apple, which is why the makers of the app didn't include the feature in the first place.

“There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues...That is obscene, and it's criminal, and I will spend every dollar that we have or ever make to burn this down until we get to somewhere better," the Basecamp CTO told the publication.

It is worth noting that the development comes at a time when the EU announced that it was conducting a probe into Apple's anti-competitive behaviour following a complaint filed by Spotify.

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First Published Date: 17 Jun, 14:08 IST