My short bio: Hey! I'm a 25 year old fella from Eastern Canada and long-time Redditor who builds the Apollo Reddit client for iOS. I worked at Apple in Cupertino for a summer as an iOS engineer on the enterprise team back in 2014 while I was getting my Computer Science degree.

At the time I was enamored with the late and great Alien Blue but wanted to improve on it, so I went back to school that September and spent the next three years building the Reddit client of my dreams with a really clean design that felt at home on iOS, while also being super powerful with a ton of snazzy features. Thousands of Redditors beta tested it before release and truly shaped it into something I'm super proud of.

I released it last October and the support's allowed me to work on it as my full-time job since graduating university and I get feedback from the community over in r/ApolloApp to figure out what to add to it next.

Anyway, people have asked for an AMA quite a bit and today seemed like a great occasion as today I'm donating 100% of the proceeds to our local animal shelter (SPCA, the Canadian version of the ASPCA in the states). We're in the midst of kitten season and they're running low on food and I want to help out and Reddit is awesome so it seemed like a great mix. So if you're interested at all in a cool Reddit app and want to help out an awesome cause at the same time, I'd love if you checked out Apollo! You can also donate directly or even just donate to your local shelter because they could probably use the help!

It's a free download and there's a "Pro" version you can unlock for a few bucks. There's also a tip jar in the app (Settings tab) which will go toward it too if you already have Pro or are feeling extra generous.

Obligatory picture of the little fuzzball I adopted there: (her name is Ruby)

My Proof:

AMA! I'll try to answer as long as I feasibly can!

Comments: 406 • Responses: 89  • Date: 

davidios286 karma

Does Reddit hate you for making an app 100 times better than the official one? K thnks

iamthatis264 karma

Far from it, they've been super nice, there's an awesome guy who reaches out to me every so often and is kind of a liaison if I need anything, and a guy even reached out to offer a job at Reddit if I was interested, which was super flattering (I politely declined because I like doing my own thing and we had a kinda "may the best app win then!" joke and laugh, super cool guy).

I think they realize there's more than enough room for all of us and Redditors appreciate options so it's all good!

TBoneTheOriginal155 karma

a guy even reached out to offer a job at Reddit if I was interested, which was super flattering (I politely declined because I like doing my own thing

I can't tell you how happy I am to hear this. They did that with Alien Blue and killed it shortly thereafter.

iamthatis75 karma

Haha no problem, yeah that was a curious move with Alien Blue, I'm not sure I understand what happened there at all.

nikivi69 karma

How did you get started with iOS development? And is Apollo codebase mostly Swift now?

iamthatis98 karma

How did you get started with iOS development?

I really liked the idea of being able to build something that you could like go on the bus and look over someone's shoulder (non-creepily) and see them potentially using something you made, an iOS development/mobile development in general really appealed to that side of me.

So back in high school I bought a book on Objective-C for beginners (I had absolutely no programming experience) and just read it through some boring classes. Eventually I felt confident enough to start building some small apps which is when it got really fun.

And is Apollo codebase mostly Swift now?

It is! I was lucky enough to be at Apple when they unveiled Swift (like literally in the next room) so I was super jazzed about it and got a lot of initial experience with it and I loved it, so Apollo's been 100% Swift from the get-go. It's an awesome language and quite beginner friendly once you get past the optional stuff which is only slightly difficult to get your head around.

Baldish10 karma

Really glad to hear Swift is easy to get into. I took some C# in college and while it wasn't terrible, I just didn't really fall in love with it. What it did do was give me an itch for programming. I've tried out python and something about it wasn't there for me, maybe Swift will? I just got a Mac from my employer, so I can actually download Xcode and all that.

iamthatis12 karma

Haha I had the exact same experience with C#, didn't really do much for me as a language, but yeah programming is infectious. Python to be honest isn't my favorite either, I have a really good feeling Swift will do it for you. :)

Baldish5 karma

Can't wait to dig into Swift soon. Thanks for answering and keep up the awesome work on Apollo!

iamthatis6 karma

Let me know how it goes. :)

trogdors_arm53 karma

Have you added notifications yet? A couple of months ago I tried the app and I was told that has been on the wishlist for awhile.

iamthatis104 karma

That's my highest priority right now, there's a sticky in the subreddit about my plans for it, long story short it's a bit more work than meets the eye because you need a separate server to handle a lot of the work if you want to do it in the most battery-efficient way (which I do). But it's literally what I've been putting 90% of my energy into when working on Apollo lately so it'll be the next big update.

It's nice that it's being stress-tested now though since my phone is beeping a ton, haha.

TheFletchmeister29 karma

it'll be the next big update

Hell yeah!

iamthatis13 karma

Agreed. :P

silonugget46 karma

How do you make money?

iamthatis99 karma

Yeah I guess that's a pretty important question. :P

Apollo's free to download (no ads either) and you can unlock some extra features by purchasing "Apollo Pro" for a few bucks (it's a tip based system you can basically give whatever you want). You can also give further tips if you're feeling super generous after unlocking, and 100% of those will go to the kitties and puppers too.

Baldish25 karma

So do you have a full time job on top of Apollo or do apps give you enough to live off of? Not asking specifics or anything, just wondering if Apps are your main focus or if they're on top of a full time job?

iamthatis37 karma

Apollo's 100% my full time job. :D

Vullein0706 karma

How do you live off of donations and the full version? I don't think that many people pay money for full versions of apps or donate.

I am getting into programming too, game development. I'd like to know how you're pulling this off because I'm probably going to do the same :)

iamthatis14 karma

Enough have so far, but you have a point, I'm adding subscriptions for a small feature in the future that should hopefully help. Best of luck though, it's an awesome industry. :)

ploggingdev18 karma

Do you have a patreon account? If you don't, consider creating one. It's a good way for users to directly support your work (in addition to the existing options) and having a somewhat predictable monthly income from patreon can't be a bad thing!

iamthatis18 karma

Definitely working on setting one up, you're 100% right that it can only help and there's a lot of generous people out there, so it'd definitely help with building Apollo.

SafariFruitsOk40 karma

Do you have a lot of free time being the owner of a successful app or are you working 8 hours a day like everyone else? I love Apollo btw, great app, thank you.

iamthatis81 karma

I guess it depends on what you mean by free time, I don't (have to at least) work a specific 9-5 Monday to Friday rigidly which is nice, but at the same time I probably put in 50 hours a week sporadically. So I guess my schedule looks mostly like 9:30 to 5:30 (girlfriend gets home) and then if we're just relaxing watching Netflix or something I'll normally be trying to work on some features for Apollo at the same time, and I normally work weekends too if we're not doing much. It's cheesy but it's legitimately fun so I don't really think of it as working most of the time.

Thanks for the kind words too!

ethoooo3 karma

Edit: I found where you answered this :)

It sounds like a dream to be able to do this!

I’m trying to start into iOS development and I’m starting with stanford university’s class on itunes U. You may have already answered this but can you recommend any other good resources? I feel like I need a little bit better foundation before the stanford class & it’ll be simple with the right approach.

iamthatis3 karma

It's pretty great admittedly. :) I've heard great things about as well. :)

aliassadyahya36 karma

As someone who majored in computer science and has no work experience whatsoever as a developer, I NEED to know some things:

1- How hard is it to get yourself to the level of, let's say, a senior developer by simply self-learning?

2- I find it really hard to follow through with a simple idea once the coding gets a bit tedious and there are a shit ton of lines. How do you hold on to a conviction that what appears to be a mess is going to end up as something beautiful? This is a HUGE barrier for me believe it or not.

3- How often do you follow rules or conventions and design patterns and do you think it has a huge effect on the final product?

4- When do you get to point where you think to yourself "ok, I think this product is finally ready for public use". Roughly how many tests did your product go through before you got confident enough to publish it?

Thank you so much for doing this!!

iamthatis55 karma

1- How hard is it to get yourself to the level of, let's say, a senior developer by simply self-learning?

As opposed to getting a degree in CS/formal education? Honestly I'd say for me at least the formal education didn't do too much so I wouldn't put a lot of weight into that. Like don't get me wrong my school was awesome and the reason I was able to get a job at Apple but CS degrees (at least from my experience) are heavy into theory and not as much application, so you can theoretically come out of your degree with a ton of knowledge but not know how to build much of anything useful.

I started learning Objective-C from a book on Amazon back in high school during some slow Global History classes and just continued teaching myself iOS development throughout my degree. I didn't take any classes in it or anything so my iOS knowledge is basically all self-taught.

So I'd say it's definitely possible to! And heck I'd even recommend it (I wouldn't say it's easy, getting good at something never is), but no better way to learn things than getting your hands dirty and building, programming makes that really easy, but for some reason programmers like to make people think their job is a lot harder than it actually is. :P

2- I find it really hard to follow through with a simple idea once the coding gets a bit tedious and there are a shit ton of lines. How do you hold on to a conviction that what appears to be a mess is going to end up as something beautiful? This is a HUGE barrier for me believe it or not.

Yeah that's a big one with pretty much any creative discipline. My advice would be to make sure you're building something that you enjoy and appreciate, because it helps a lot if you want to see it through for your own personal benefit, it's a lot less exciting if you're just building something because you think it'll make you money or something. Also show it to people when you can, I did that like a year and a half before I built Apollo and it helped so much to have people banging on your door with suggestions (invigorating!) and screaming as to when it will be done and they can download it (motivating!).

3- How often do you follow rules or conventions and design patterns and do you think it has a huge effect on the final product?

I try to follow them really closely, which I think is a big part of why people have liked Apollo. I think it's really important to follow your platform's design guidelines (be it Apple's on iOS, Material Design on Android, etc.) because it's what the users expect. They should be able to instantly open your app and have a damn good idea how to use it, and not like worriedly tap at things like "what the heck does that do?". I find a lot of apps in their goals of being cross-platform and branding try to design one singular experience but in the end I find users appreciate much more when their apps just blend in with their phone and feel seamless and right at home. Plus I'd probably have some old colleagues at Apple beat me if they saw I used a hamburger menu on iOS or something.

4- When do you get to point where you think to yourself "ok, I think this product is finally ready for public use". Roughly how many tests did your product go through before you got confident enough to publish it?

Dang these are good questions, haha. I'd say that would be really hard if you weren't testing it publicly, I did a lot of public testing for Apollo so I let the users give me feedback until something felt right, so it passed that personal level of "Okay I think this is good enough" but you had a little insurance where it had to pass your beta testers too, which helped mentally.

And no prob!

kitikitish27 karma

What's for dinner?

iamthatis45 karma

Oh man I have no idea but I had stuffed crust pizza last night and it was amazing. In Nova Scotia we have this stuff called donair sauce which is basically like a sweet, thick milk (that doesn't sound very appetizing typing it out but it is) and it's the best and I'm so sad that everywhere else doesn't have it.

But tonight yeah no idea haha, I've been going crazy with molasses and beans lately so maybe some more of that.

kitikitish11 karma

Care to share your beans recipe? I've been experimenting with beans recently.

iamthatis25 karma

Yeah! It's my mom's friend's grandmother's! I'm vegetarian so I just modify it slightly without the pork and add some garlic powder and it's super good. I also just get canned beans because I can't be bothered soaking and parboiling. :P

kitikitish8 karma

Do you think it'd be terrible with pinto beans instead of kidney?

iamthatis15 karma

Oh you'd be fine, I'm 90% sure I've used those before interchangeably. It's alllll gooooood.

kitikitish10 karma

Alright. Thank you for the recipe.

iamthatis15 karma

No prob, guard it well!

hrcardiox7 karma

i opened a can of kidney beans recently and it was rather traumatizing lol

iamthatis7 karma

What? How? :P

hrcardiox8 karma

look at my recent post

warning: nsfl

iamthatis11 karma

That's going to be a hard pass from me, amigo.

busymom024 karma

Since you are more of a public figure now, share some graduation pics?

Since you are the sole developer, have you thought of having some trusted other party take over Apollo if something happens to you?

Also have you ever feared reddit will pull a twitter and fuck up their support for 3rd party APIs? What then?

Sorry for the sad questions lol.

iamthatis61 karma

Since you are more of a public figure now, share some graduation pics?

I seemingly don't have any on my phone, haha, I'm sure my parents do, but here's a photo of my degree and me working on Apollo at some point so if you smush them together it's kind of a graduation picture.

Since you are the sole developer, have you thought of having some trusted other party take over Apollo if something happens to you?

My girlfriend's a really talented web developer, so Jess if you're reading this and I die you gotta learn Swift and take up my mantle.

Also have you ever feared reddit will pull a twitter and fuck up their support for 3rd party APIs? What then?

Naw, they've been super awesome and communicative with me and continue to update their APIs and there's more than enough room for all of us, they'll undoubtedly continue to have the lion's share of usage and us little guys and gals can exist as an alternative who want some more spice in their life. Reddit seems pretty good at realizing they don't want to piss off their users too badly too, which I think they know that would do.

Sorry for the sad questions lol.

Not sad at all lol.

busymom037 karma

That Vaseline bottle in the background though ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

iamthatis40 karma

Man I was a Canadian in California it was hot as hell and I was always feeling so dry. :( Gotta moisturize.

busymom033 karma

Sure sure ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°)

iamthatis26 karma


aurora-_9 karma

What’s the CS cooperative program?

iamthatis19 karma

They have a "Co Op" element where there's three 4 month long work terms you have to take part in before you can graduate (in addition to your studies) in order to prep you better for employment and getting a job, so it's an optional part of the degree you can do which I'm really happy I did.

aurora-_9 karma

That’s incredibly awesome, I’m going back to school for C.S. in the spring and need to see if they offer this!

iamthatis9 karma

It's awesome! Even if they don't you could likely just take a semester break and do it yourself!

Dirty_Old_Uncle4 karma

My kid is at Waterloo doing the SE co-op. Great way to pay the bills too.

iamthatis3 karma

Oh man, Waterloo is the best, everyone at Apple I worked with who was Canadian doing co-op was from Waterloo, they must be doing something right. Give your son my best!

boredjew22 karma

How long have you and your gf been together?

Going to put a ring on it soon?

Can I come? Love weddings.

It should be Apollo themed.

PS. Love the app. I tell all my friends to switch.

iamthatis45 karma

We'll have been together for 6 years this January, ring-wise I dunno, we both still feel a little young but who knows. :P

I love weddings too, uhh… we'll see if there's room. She just laughed sarcastically about an Apollo wedding saying she's had enough of it the last four years. I think she was joking. :P

And thanks for telling your friends that, it really means a lot that you like it enough to do that.

boredjew14 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA and responding! Hahaha love the sarcasm from the gf.

Post engagement pics after it happens. You’ve got an invested fan base!

iamthatis10 karma

You got it. :P

Benasen17 karma

What is your best source of motivation for continuing work on Apollo despite much feedback being negative (in the sense that not all things work as they should, normal in any app development projects i presume)?

iamthatis26 karma

Hey! You're the one who got me to do this AMA!

What is your best source of motivation for continuing work on Apollo despite much feedback being negative (in the sense that not all things work as they should, normal in any app development projects i presume)?

Honestly feedback is pretty darn positive overall, and the "negative" feedback (as you said) isn't that bad because it's not like "Hey idiot your app sucks" it's from people who found a bug that they understandably want fixed, and that's just someone who uses my app and cares enough to contact about a bug, which makes me happy too. :P So yeah it's pretty easy to stay motivated overall, the community is awesome.

Benasen7 karma

Heh, I won’t take credit, I know a lot of people have wanted this!

I’m glad you have such a positive perception on your users engagement with the app, I’m sure they don’t have any real grievances and as you say, only report things because they care.

Do you have a final end goal for Apollo in sight or do you think it’s going to be a continuous project with constant change and improvement?

Do you think having Apollo specific features, like a pinging feature (opt-in messages from dev) or a special username color for us to identify each other when out and about will be something that’s going to be explored in the future?

Excuse the many questions please, I want to make the most of the opportunity 😄

iamthatis5 karma

Definitely a continuous project, I honestly see no end in sight at the moment, which is pretty cool. And maybe, I'm pretty focused on the Reddit-focused features at the mo', though, and no problem. :P

Benasen14 karma

Can adoption of a cat in need of a home be part of the perks of getting the pro version of Apollo?

iamthatis35 karma

I'm not sure everyone would appreciate a cat showing up at their door for unlocking Pro. :P Maybe a dancing e-cat like in those old email signatures.

But if you want to adopt a cat or dog or turtle or whatever from a shelter but also want Apollo Pro and are low on money PM me and I'll gladly give you free Pro to support the cause. :P

Benasen11 karma

Who could say no to a cute fuzz ball of their own!

I’d want to help the shelter but I’m unable to financially, at least right now. Understand the help is needed urgently, but I vow to donate some money for food when paycheck arrives :)

iamthatis13 karma

Totally fair, gotta look after yourself. :P The sentiment alone is awesome of you.

Mornin_Vietnam12 karma

What are your go to resources when it comes to learning swift and iOS development?

iamthatis32 karma

I always find myself on Ray Wenderlich's site it seems, amazing resource. I also just Google and read a lot, and r/iosprogramming is awesome as well. Oh and WWDC videos! iOS devs are definitely lucky in that we definitely don't have a lack of awesome resources. :P

Comedicjustice11 karma

Hey! Fellow 25 year old eastern canadian lol! I really enjoy your app. I’m surprised someone mentioned negative feedback haha!!

My question is with regards to schooling. I graduated with a business degree and am not really happy with what I do. Do you think it’s “too late” to go back into comp sci? As you mentioned in one your replies, the best thing is to get your hands dirty. I’ve done basic python and c coding but never reached the point where I was able to create something (due to work and school). My passion is being able to make apps that can make a difference. Finance can’t really do that (at least in my eyes).

I’m worried about doing another 3 years in uni and not being good enough to get a job. From what I read, people have been coding for years and it’s not necessarily have to do with schooling.

Any thoughts or advice?


Edi: English. duh.

iamthatis12 karma

Oh god not at all haha. If you're worried about another few years at uni, don't be, you really don't have to and I think you could make a great argument for saying you shouldn't if I'm to be honest.

Everything I know about iOS development is self-taught, a lot of the theory stuff I have from school is definitely helpful (algorithm stuff, for instance, but you can also teach yourself that), where you could honestly spend those few years and know a lot about the theory of programming but not be any closer to being able to create the apps you want to.

CS degrees are helpful when applying for jobs, but it's a lot more helpful to have something cool to show off to an employer, a degree is far from necessary and if you spend some time getting your hands dirty, reading and building some cool stuff, you could be a programmer before you know it and not have to make a substantial commitment like university.

Comedicjustice7 karma

Thanks for the reply! Appreciate the insight :)

iamthatis7 karma

No prob, best of luck. :)

Comedicjustice5 karma

Thanks! One last question! As far as programming languages go, what would you consider a must? C++/Java? If i mainly want to program ios should I focus on Swift?

How do you make your code isn’t spaghetti code? Haha

iamthatis11 karma

No prob, all the questions you want! I wouldn't consider any language a must unless you need that language haha. I touched Java and C++ a bit in uni but haven't seen much of them since so they certainly aren't essential to me. Imo it's kinda silly to go finding programming languages before knowing what you need them for, it would be like buying tools at Home Depot before knowing anything about what you want to build. A chainsaw and a pickaxe aren't going to help you build a bird house.

Spaghetti code is both easy to fall into but pretty hard if you plan ahead. Just don't be lazy and plan things out a bit and you'd be surprised how far that goes. Take pride in your code, don't see it as just some annoying thing you have to do.

Comedicjustice8 karma

ilu <3

iamthatis8 karma


MaGNeTiX11 karma

I always worry about the good people and the good apps and their developers.

Does Apollo make you enough money these days to continue working on the app for the foreseeable future?

Have you seen peaks and troughs in your income, and would a sustained period cause you problems where you might have to reevaluate your ability to develop the app?

Obviously not expecting numbers, but I do worry about the little developers getting screwed over sometimes.

iamthatis12 karma

100%! People have been very generous, I'm a really lucky guy and I should be able to keep developing Apollo for the foreseeable future if it keeps up, and I really hope it does because it's a dream come true. So far no worrying dips either, it's been consistent.

Some devs definitely do get unlucky but thankfully people have been really awesome with Apollo.

JTC808 karma

Why do none of the moderator features work? Modmail, Modlog, Reports, etc. all go to “page not found” every time I try since I downloaded the app months ago.

iamthatis15 karma

Quite a few moderator features work, I wanted to make sure of that for launch, there's just a ton of moderator features that Reddit offers, haha. All of the "actions" (viewing reports, banning, removing, flairing, etc.) work, it's just the history/subreddit-level features that you mentioned that I need to add, but they're a bit more work. I'm really hoping to add them soon I just have a laundry list of features I'm trying to get through, but it's definitely on the list!

willsue4food7 karma

Happy pro user here. Question, any update on when 1.3 is coming out (besides "soon")? I am getting carpal tunnel from refreshing the App Store updates section waiting for it....I really really want sub-specific sorting, and then in my mind, the app is perfect. You can retire.

iamthatis13 karma

Haha, sorry about the delay. At the moment my plan is to release the notifications update which is more or less in the final bits of development, and then the 1.3 update is likely to become the "1.4" update. I had quite a bit planned/partially done that it felt stupid to call it a 1.2.5, and 1.3 is already pitched as the notifications update, so I just bumped it ahead a bit, but it really won't be far now, subreddit-specific sort is at the top of the list for it.

willsue4food6 karma

Im a bit confused subreddit-specific sorting bumped to 1.4?

iamthatis10 karma

Likely yeah, but the wait for 1.4 will be a lot shorter than 1.2 -> 1.3.

thumperr7 karma

I have no programming experience currently. Would you suggest objective C , swift, or another language at this point?

Thanks for the AMA

iamthatis10 karma

I'd say Swift is a solid choice, Objective-C is a little tougher and Swift is more and more becoming the de facto choice. There's some tricky parts like "optionals" that can be a bit of work to wrap your head around, but it's not so bad. Python is also really good, but the nice thing about Swift is once you get good at it you can start building apps immediately!

CycloneGhostAlpha7 karma

Is running Apollo your full time job? Or do you have another main job?

I have no idea how much time and effort goes into running and maintaining an app like Apollo.

iamthatis13 karma

Been full-time for almost three years now, two and a half of those let's just say it didn't pay too well. :P

It's admittedly a lot of work, Reddit is a massive site with a massive amount of features (even if it doesn't always seem like it), and there's still a bunch more features I want to add so I spend a lot of time working on Apollo.

-_-_-_-otalp-_-_-_-6 karma

Can you give a ballpark figure of how much revenue the app generates? Or what percentage of users buy pro? Curious as to how lucrative a freemium website app can be.

iamthatis27 karma

I don't really want to give a figure because it's only been out for like half a year and it's hard to say how things will continue down the road and if it'll be fully sustainable yet, but it seems to be. For instance, say x% of users buy Pro now, that's great and all but if the user-base stays somewhat the same those users only buy it once so it may seem like it makes more money than it does in reality. So far it makes enough that I can politely decline requests from Facebook recruiters without feeling too bad about the fat salaries they offer. :P

coldweatherj8 karma

You should make it a cheap subscription based service. Then you will generate long term cash flow.

iamthatis23 karma

I'm looking to do something like this for notifications because notifications (the server) has ongoing server costs, so hopefully something like this will work out.

supermuwolf6 karma

Hello will we will ever get a live comment sort so we don’t have to refresh the page to see the new comments?

iamthatis21 karma

Yeah, I've actually started work on that feature! Common request.

s3npai4 karma

Can we see pics of the kitties?

iamthatis5 karma

Of course! Here's one of the both of them. :P

Wait do you mean mine or the shelter's.

s3npai3 karma

Both if possible..

And awww cute!!

Edit: the orange one looks like the sassy one

iamthatis3 karma

I'll try to get some from the shelter! And you have no idea how right you are. :P

tckiely3 karma

What was your breaking point with reddit that made you finally decide to make your own client? Love the app, keep up the good work!

iamthatis5 karma

Haha it wasn't so much of a breaking point, I loved Alien Blue and just thought I could make some improvements to it and wanted to scratch the itch with my own Reddit app, ended up being a much bigger undertaking than I initially thought. :P

theaudiodidact8 karma

Not the user you replied to, but as a daily Apollo Pro user, thank you for sticking with it. I’m a bit ashamed to say, but Reddit is easily where I spend >50% of my time on my phone, and I was never completely happy with a Reddit app until Apollo was released. I went through Narwhal, Baconreader, and Alien Blue. I tried Apollo the first week it was released, and purchased Pro days later when it became obvious you were serious about supporting the app.

So, yeah, thanks again!

iamthatis3 karma

Oh man I'm just getting started. :) No problem.

AndrewGene3 karma

I’ve been an iOS dev since iOS 2 (first year you could make REAL apps). I’ve been doing freelance off and on for the last 4 years. As a single developer, what type of project management do you use (if any)? Do you break your work up in sprints for each release or just a todo list and when enough features (or the RIGHT features) are complete then release a build? Thanks. Great app BTW!

iamthatis6 karma

Oh wow, I started at iOS 4, you're hardcore. :P I organize everything in Wunderlist personally, a ton of lists but it works well for me, nothing overly formal but I probably could benefit from something.

Mcginnis3 karma

Big fan of Alien Blue. I sometimes use the new reddit app for some subreddits with lots of videos and gifs. What makes your app better, why should I try it out?

iamthatis3 karma

Well for one Alien Blue hasn't been updated in years, it's missing some of the newer Reddit features like multireddits, not updated for modern devices or iOS features, etc. But outside of that Apollo follows iOS design guidelines a lot closer and in my opinion feels more at home on iOS. It also has a ton of awesome power features, and I think the media viewer is an upgrade too.

aeonofgods3 karma

Hey big time user of Apollo here! Love the app and am excited to see it expand and grow!

Any ideas for apps you would like to make one day?

iamthatis9 karma

Thanks for being a big time user. <3 I'm excited too!

That's a good question, I have some ideas but I'm pretty focused on Apollo now to the extent that I haven't gave them much thought. A YouTube app could be cool.

iamdejavu3 karma

  1. Reason behind the name Apollo?
  2. What’s the worst part of your job?
  3. If you ever had stress related to developing Apollo like getting things done in time etc, how did you cope with it?
  4. Any advice for wanna be programmers?
  5. Do you have any other project ideas in mind or just Apollo for now?

Appreciate all the hard work you do man!

iamthatis14 karma

1. Reason behind the name Apollo?

It was originally named Calico (because I like cats, haha) but decided against it because Google was doing something with the name actively and didn't want to compete. Then I was thinking up names with a friend and I wanted something space themed (since Reddit's mascot is an alien) and a friend suggested a space ship because you use it to explore space like you use my app to explore Reddit, and I liked the name Apollo!

2. What’s the worst part of your job?

Definitely the lack of people sometimes, I miss having coworkers like at past jobs.

3. If you ever had stress related to developing Apollo like getting things done in time etc, how did you cope with it?

Drink lots of coffee, stay up late, code through the pain and try to learn to plan better next time.

4. Any advice for wanna be programmers?

My advice would be to stop being a wanna be programmer, or at least stop calling yourself that, becoming a programmer is a lot easier than most would have you think, read some, build some, and you're off to the races, absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

5. Do you have any other project ideas in mind or just Apollo for now?

Apollo's an absolute dream come true to be working on, so I'm definitely 100% focused on that for the immediate future.

And thanks for the kind words, it's really not that hard work, it's a lot of fun!

Miztorr3 karma

Would you ever consider open-sourcing Apollo?

iamthatis8 karma

Not currently no, I really don't really see any benefit at the moment and if anyone's concerned about Apollo doing anything shifty, you can easily sniff its traffic going over your router, which is probably easier than sifting through tens of thousands of lines of code anyway. :P

Miztorr7 karma

I’m not worried or anything. I just like reading through other people’s code (as it teaches me a lot) and was wondering if I’d be able to do so with Apollo someday.

iamthatis7 karma

Ah ha! In that case I might be able to appeal to you some, there's parts of Apollo I definitely want to open source, just not the whole thing (for instance the unobtrusive volume indicator). I totally know what you mean.

Miztorr3 karma

!!!! :)

iamthatis5 karma


lucrosus3 karma

Do you think you’ll ever consider split-view for iPads and larger iPhones?

iamthatis4 karma


lucrosus2 karma

Any idea of a rough timeframe?

iamthatis2 karma

I haven't had a lot of time to work on it lately to be honest due to notifications, but once I get a chance to I'll be able to give something more concrete.

Noerdy2 karma

Love Apollo! I mod a ton of large subs, and have a ton of karma, and I try to use your app whenever possible. Is it possible to add modmail? Would really help stuff out a ton!

iamthatis5 karma

Definitely in the works. :)

Zazerrr2 karma

Is Apollo your full time job? Can you sustain yourself on it alone? Or do you partly depend on your girlfriend/other source of income?

iamthatis4 karma

Haha thankfully haven't had to lean on her, burned all my money from Apple on it haha, completely self-sustaining at the moment though which is awesome!

Zazerrr3 karma

That’s awesome! I’m glad that you can work doing something you obviously love and enjoy yourself whilst developing something we all love and appreciate. Keep up the good work ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ <3

iamthatis2 karma

It's really a dream come true. :) Thank you!

linkthebowmaster2 karma

What advice would you give to a soon to be high school senior who wants to do something in computer science but keeps getting stumped when learning to program?

iamthatis3 karma

Weird, my reply isn't showing up so I'll post it again!

Other than that everyone gets stumped learning to program? Oh man I remember learning as a high school senior and having to re-read the same page fifteen times across 4 days because I couldn't understand what now seems like the most trivial, easy thing. Heck I still get stumped daily on things that seem easy a few weeks later.

Programming's a lot like any normal spoken language where it can be hard as hell to figure it out at the beginning, but you stick with it and eventually it comes really naturally and is even fun, that beginning just sucks at times.

So definitely keep with it, if you're passionate about it the rest will come.

linkthebowmaster3 karma

Thanks man I appreciate the response. I’ll just keep trying to learn until it clicks one day but I certainly won’t lose sleep over how good I have to be

iamthatis3 karma

Yeah definitely don't, I wouldn't consider myself good (and I'm not saying that in some bs humble way), it's more important to be passionate and hard working. :)

wil_i_am_scared_of_u2 karma

Should I be using the Apollo app instead of the BaconReader app...? 😬

iamthatis14 karma

Of course not, use whatever makes you happy, there's enough room for all of us. :P Apollo's a free download though so if you're looking for something a little more iOS-y give it a try, I'd love to know what you think.

wil_i_am_scared_of_u5 karma

Ok, that was my too-subtle way of asking which is better. I stumbled across BaconReader but it has its challenges.

iamthatis10 karma

It's hard to say which one is better, and I have a lot of respect for the BaconReader folks so I don't want to say anything negative. Reddit apps are a pretty personal thing.

I will say my main goal with Apollo was to build something that felt really at home on iOS, while being as powerful or more than Alien Blue, so if that's up your alley at all I'd love to have ya. :P

wil_i_am_scared_of_u4 karma

Fair enough. I’m willing to try different apps.

iamthatis6 karma

Lemme know what you think. :)

KidAKidB5 karma

Most definitely give Apollo a shot! It's pretty much my favourite iOS app. Definitely my most used one and the one I enjoy using the most.

iamthatis5 karma


I-Touch-Lamps2 karma

Do you have any plans to bring Apollo to Android? (Sorry if this has been answered before.)

iamthatis3 karma

Not currently, it's a ton of work.

MeitneriumXM2 karma

If you don’t mind answering, what college did you go to? Btw, Apollo is really awesome

iamthatis2 karma

Dalhousie University! Would recommend! And thank you. :)

WellandandAnderson2 karma


No questions, but your donations to the kitty sanctity have finally given me impetus to become a paid user. Thanks!

Edit: Will you post some pictures f the cats you're helping?

iamthatis2 karma

I'll try to sneak over and take some pics today. :) Thanks so much for the kindness.

WindowsRX2 karma

What is it about other Reddit clients for iOS that inspired you to create what Apollo is? (Big fan of Apollo)

iamthatis13 karma

I loved Alien Blue and it was by far the most used app I had. But at the same it had some parts of it that I wasn't the biggest fan of (it didn't adhere very closely to iOS design, and some stuff like the diagonal action menu felt weird) and I was walking somewhere and like "Hey I should make my own and see if I can fix those issues". I wanted to build something every bit as powerful, but a little more natural and the design a little more iOS inspired. Plus some power features.

Tweetie (the old Twitter app by Loren Brichter) probably inspired me just as much as Alien Blue though, really showed me that a mobile app could be every bit as good, and better than the desktop versions.

So it's like most programmer projects, you like the stuff you use but a few things annoy you so you set out to build something yourself.

DDF952 karma

I miss Tweetie. It was honestly the best app ever made, so powerful yet so simple and fast.

iamthatis2 karma

I loved it. And Twitter for iPad? -brings hand to mouth and makes kiss sound-

theaudiodidact2 karma

Since no one has asked yet, can we expect more of your awesome app icons in a future update? ;)

iamthatis3 karma

Oh yeah, I'm really stoked about that.

dadsbasement1 karma

Hey Christian! (Cool name btw ... best name ever IMO)

I’m beginning my first year as a computer science student (changed majors late realizing that tech, computers, and programming are my true passions). So I have a couple questions: Where did you start, and what is some advice you have for a young programmer in such a vast field to help me succeed? I dream of doing my own work or pursuing my own project just like you have and I’m hoping you can shed some light on how you found such success!

P.s. I’ve used Apollo for months now and I absolutely love it.

Thanks for reading, and keep doing what you do!


iamthatis3 karma

Haha thanks my friend, I like the name too. :P

I started just reading a programming book on Objective-C back in a slow class in high school, nothing too crazy just something to get started with.

You're off to a great start if you're passionate about computers and programming. Seriously, you can't teach that, and it's an amazing benefit.

Outside of that the best advice I can give is to read less and do more; start building things as soon as you can, it's fun, more rewarding, and awesome fun to show off, and above all you learn a lot faster, at least I did. It's easy to read and read and read and read and never actually get anything done or never actually learn anything until you actually get your hands dirty.

Employers love programmers who have built their own things, it shows know-how and passion, so seriously, build stuff and keep that passion up. Don't do things for money if you can avoid it, take on projects because you're passionate about them because it'll reflect in the work.

Wish you the very best, and thanks for the kind words. :)

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iamthatis23 karma

Added proof!

grizzlywalker20 karma

Purple name’s all the proof I need

iamthatis11 karma


braken1 karma

Does the Moosehead actually taste better out east, or is it just a myth?

iamthatis3 karma

To be honest (and I might get in trouble for saying this) I don't think Moosehead tastes good anywhere. :P

braken2 karma

Haha, fair enough! It’s been my go-to fridge filler since the 90’s and I love it!

Regardless, I just found your app as a result of this thread and bought pro. Just checking it out now, and looks promising so far

iamthatis1 karma

Oh man do not take my advice on beer, I barely like any and mostly go with ciders because I'm a wuss. :P IPAs kill me.

But thank you, glad ya like it. :P

willrb1 karma

Do you have an Apple Watch?

iamthatis2 karma

I do! I admittedly don't use it that much (mainly for running) because I kinda like the quiet and being notified all the time doesn't on my wrist doesn't jive too well with me (phone is fine, but something about the wrist just doesn't mesh well with me being notified all the time for some reason).

DocyodaX1 karma

How long did it take for you to build Apollo? I’m currently learning Objective C and it’s a lot different than what I’m used to (web development), it’s quite confusing; how long it would take someone like myself with programming knowledge to build an app as big as Apollo?

iamthatis1 karma

Oh man Apollo is an enormous app, it took me about three years working full time with quite a bit of iOS knowledge at that time to build it, it's not exactly a good initial project to undertake. :P But I'd say you can definitely build a decent app within a year of starting, potentially much less if you know how to program with other languages and/or are quite dedicated to the cause.

adhamoadham0021 karma

when did you start programming (in general)? and how long did it take you to start building the app?

iamthatis1 karma

I started programming in 12th grade of high school (so year before uni) but it was more so for fun than anything serious, I built my first somewhat serious app in my second year of uni then started Apollo in my third and shipped it two years after I graduated. :P

That's a very general timeline, if you were super focused you could do it a lot faster (well at least start building an app, an app as big as Apollo will take quite awhile regardless).

Jaspergreenham1 karma

Are you planning any other apps, like for Twitter?

iamthatis2 karma

Not currently, love Tweetbot and Twitterrific too much. :)

SelfProximity1 karma

Hey man, first of all cheers for making a fantastic reddit client.

Second of all, do you have any tips for someone trying to get into swift?


iamthatis2 karma

Thank you. :) And haha it sounds dumb but my best tip is to "just do it", don't read a million tutorials, read some and get your hands dirty as soon as possible, it's so much more satisfying and rewarding and you'll learn so much faster. Swift's an amazing language and a lot of fun to work with.

AtomHearth1 karma

First of all thanks for the great app! I've been using it for a while now and never regretted getting the pro upgrade. I really love the automatically switching between the light and dark theme based on the display brightness. Speaking of the dark mode, would you care to shed some light on how you implemented it? I have a little app on the store as well and was thinking about implementing a dark mode. I never came across a library I really found handy to integrate in my project.... Also I'm already looking forward to the parts of the code you will make open source.

iamthatis2 karma

I did it all from scratch unfortunately but the system's not too complex, I should blog about it someday. Essentially using a NSNotificationCenter style system where views subscribe to notifications about theme changes and update accordingly based on predefined colors if that makes any sense.

Stuewe-7 karma

Can't they just feed the kittens to the other animals?

iamthatis3 karma