Apple, as opposed to Google, just doesn’t know how to kick back and relax sometimes. After a prank app called Phoneys skyrocketed to the top of the iMessage App Store charts, Apple informed the developer of the app, Adam Howell, that the app will be removed in a week if he doesn’t implement some design tweaks that would fundamentally alter the appeal and overall utility of the app.
For those unfamiliar, Phoneys is a fun iMessage app that let users send stickers designed to look exactly like the blue iMessage bubbles iOS users are accustomed to. The end result is that users can send their friends messages and make it seem as if they were the ones who sent it.
As Sara Perez noted, “And thanks to the new layering feature in the updated version of iMessage, you can place these stickers — which say things like “My political views are totally wrong” or “I have terrible taste in music” — overtop your friend’s message to make it look like they texted these self-deprecating statements to you.”
Intrigued, I actually paid for the app earlier this week and, suffice it to say, it’s a whole lot of fun. Now the app doesn’t work exactly as advertised because the font within the iMessage bubble is bigger than it should be. What’s more, the placement of the sticker itself isn’t always aligned correctly. Nonetheless, it still makes for a fun, if not confusing prank to pull on friends.
Alas, it turns out that Apple wasn’t on-board with the shenanigans.
Detailing Apple’s reaction, Howell recounts (via Medium) a phone conversation he had with Apple.
Bill was nice, but to the point. Apple’s lawyers weren’t happy that Phoneys got through the review process. The stickers couldn’t be blue or green, they couldn’t use San Francisco as the typeface, and the app could no longer be marketed as a “prank” app, because Apple doesn’t approve prank apps (even though I myself had never used the word “prank” when marketing Phoneys, others did, and I certainly understood where he was coming from). They were not going to pull the app, Bill made sure to emphasize. They’d give me a week, until next Thursday, to fundamentally change it so that the bubbles looked nothing like iMessage bubbles, instead looking something closer to “comic book cartoon bubbles”. I said okay, thanks a lot Bill, and that was the end of the conversation.