Hey all,

Little backstory, my name's Christian Selig, I'm freshly 26 (today's my birthday actually!), and I build the Apollo for Reddit app.

In the summer of 2014 during my Computer Science degree I was lucky enough to intern at Apple as engineer on the Enterprise App Development team in Cupertino (long way from Eastern Canada), where I learned an absolute ton from some crazy smart people.

After returning I set out to build a Reddit app that felt like if Apple themselves was to design a Reddit app, something that really felt at home on iOS and used a lot of the skills I learned to create something super fast and lean, while also being powerful and just a lot of fun to use. After 2 years of development and betas working closely with a few thousand Redditors to help shape it into the perfect client, I released it in October 2017.

The reception was really amazing, and it's now almost at 1.5 million downloads. It's been my full-time job for about 4 years now.

Today, 100% of the proceeds from the app will go to the SPCA Animal Shelter in Nova Scotia. Apollo is free to download and has a Pro/Ultra version you can unlock, so if you get those today the proceeds will completely go to the animal shelter and helping the cats and dogs and bunnies and turtles.

In addition I'll donate an extra $0.10 for every comment this thread gets by tomorrow. no spam tho plz

Why right now? These warm months are dubbed "kitten season" because it's far and away the time when most cats have kittens. Shelters are overwhelmed with abandoned/orphaned kittens and their resources and food becomes very very tight. The shelter we're donating to is where I adopted my two amazing cats from, and they're truly an amazing bunch who cares so much, so I really want to help them in this time that's really stressful for them.

Last year we did the same thing and raised $5,000 for them and they were absolutely floored. I really want to try to do $10,000 this year!

AMA! I will attempt to answer every question.

EDIT: A bunch have asked what the app exactly is in more detail haha, so here's the gist:

Apollo's an app for browsing Reddit on your iOS device, similar to the official Reddit app. I worked at Apple for a little while and was using Alien Blue, and really wanted to build a Reddit app that felt like if Apple themselves decided to build a Reddit app, something that felt perfectly at home on iOS. No knock on the official app (it's well done by talented people), but it doesn't follow a lot of the iOS design guidelines and feels a little Android-y to me at times. It's kinda like a car, you might be perfectly happy with yours and wonder what's the point of another car, but you might drive in another car and just find it more fun and comfortable to use. On top of this Apollo has some really slick custom gestures, a Jump Bar for quickly bouncing between subreddits, color-coded comments for easy navigation, a really powerful media viewer and it was voted the best Reddit app for iOS by The Sweet Setup.

Oh and I'm still answering questions.

EDIT2: It's getting late so I think I'm going to head to bed but I'll answer more in the morning!

Comments: 2397 • Responses: 108  • Date: 

elstead2200 karma

What’s it like to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo’s first beta users?

iamthatis1128 karma

Hahahaha, I can interpret this in a few ways I think given that Apollo's beta period felt like 50 years. But I'd also love to imagine the Apollo astronauts even have any idea what my app is, as unlikely as that is :P

RobertAPetersen471 karma

Some have Reddit accounts...so it’s not...impossible?

u/BuzzAldrinHere Buzz Aldrin

u/KSCVC Charlie Duke and Al Worden

iamthatis335 karma

Gonna take the silence as a no. Dammit

11011088 karma

As a day 1 beta tester, this comment physically hurt me.

iamthatis53 karma

I feel so attacked rn (jk)

elstead3 karma

Count me as truly afraid /u/Iamthatis thought I was needling him too hard. I am but a peasant lunging at an easy pun.

iamthatis3 karma

Hahaha not the least bit, it's all in good humor and I love laughing at myself

monkeymanpoopchute1011 karma

Why are you such a good dude?

Edit: I love animals and told my wife we’re just gonna donate whatever assets we have to animal shelters before we croak

iamthatis1108 karma

I fell over a lot as a young child and I think it affected my brain

You're a great person

monkeymanpoopchute295 karma

See, falling on your head as a child can lead to good things!

Time for you to publish a study.

iamthatis783 karma

i cant read

Awesalot95 karma

I laughed out loud at this. No nose exhale, real laugh. Nice one.

Seriously though, you're doing some amazing work and it feels great to see the best part of humanity while randomly scrolling through reddit on a weekend.

iamthatis58 karma

Thanks, happy to be of service :P

Deathleach35 karma

Dropping your baby once a day keeps the evil away!

iamthatis15 karma


potheadbarista17 karma

Donating your time also goes a long way. Without volunteers, a lot of shelter wouldn’t be able to cope, there is so much cleaning to do and the animals also need lots of socialization, in my local shelter, they even have doggy dates where the public can book a “date” with a dog and spend time with them.

iamthatis9 karma

Seriously, just having a lot of hands helps a lot.

Auttoh816 karma

Avid Apollo user. Picked up the lifetime sub as soon as I could and no regrets! Gorgeous app, bugs happen and get squashed as fast as possible, fun icon collabs with artists, and a dev that's prompt/interactive with his community and seems to be an all around good guy! Even answers my DM's O_O.

Two questions but feel free to answer one. Being a solo dev has its challenges for Apollo, but have you dabbled in any other projects in potential spare time? And what are some of the apps you can't live without/love? Any platform :)

Thanks for the AMA, the donations, and of course–Apollo.

iamthatis556 karma

Thank you so much, I genuinely try. :P

I'll answer both this ain't amateur hour.

  • No other programming projects to be honest, a few internal tools to help me answer messages/comments faster but that's basically an extension of Apollo. :P I really like woodworking though and do some of that on the side.
  • Oh wow, so many apps I can't live without. In no order and just a few off the top of my head, Alfred, Karabiner Elements, Sketch, Xcode, Spotify, Tweetbot, Visual Studio Code

theapplen497 karma

What do you do to get back on track when you’re frustrated by a coding session?

iamthatis625 karma

I really like going for little walks, find it clears my head and helps me see problems differently. It's like a mini version of "go to sleep and when you wake up the solution will probably be obvious".

MasterMosha423 karma

How is development on the iPad application going?

iamthatis453 karma

Excellent! WWDC really invigorated me with the whole ceremonial splitting off to iPadOS. Have a bunch of requests for smaller things like better crossposting support as well as all the iOS 13 changes and stuff that's taking up a bit more time than I'd like right now though, but once I have those sorted it should be 100% iPad time.

DWells55105 karma

I’m hoping this means stability updates too? I get a lot of crashes and performance issues on my iPad 2017 - seems like there’s a memory leak in there somewhere.

iamthatis214 karma

Can you email me your crash ID and I'll see what's up? Apollo's currently at 99.88% crash free users, you'd be a unicorn if you're having them frequently. You can get your crash ID by going to Settings tab > About > Crash Reporting and Analytics, then tap on the row (not the switch, but the row itself).

Sunday-Afternoon59 karma

Lack of good iPad support was the one thing I was really bummed about. So hearing this, I didn’t hesitate to upgrade to pro, which I didn’t even know existed. I only knew about the ultra subscription.

Keep up the great work. You are my go-to on iPhone. Looking forward to a great iPad experience!

iamthatis54 karma

Thank you so much, yeah the iPad app is going to be phenomenal once it gets here. :)

Ricky_RZ373 karma

That's a Redwall reference right?

iamthatis298 karma

My username? You betcha. :D

pretty-boy-132 karma


iamthatis111 karma

That snake always creeped me out as a kid.

chooseusernameeeeeee36 karma

Loool holy shit. Totally forgot about that show.

“I am that is, my sword shall wield for me”

iamthatis66 karma

It's a novel too, both are phenomenal. :) The show really hooked me though, so good.

kobe24aran209 karma

just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY Christian!!!! What's the name of your cat?

iamthatis303 karma

Thank you so much. :D I have two, a black one named Ruby and an orange one named Hugo. Hugo's older by about 2 years. They're 2 and 4. :) https://i.imgur.com/FXrZIZU.jpg

XmiteYT200 karma

when’s beta invite

uh, i mean, love the app, what’s your favorite subreddit to browse?

iamthatis223 karma

Right now probably r/WhatCouldGoWrong, something so satisfying about the stupidity

lightningbadger8 karma

Dude, should've said /r/apolloapp

iamthatis21 karma

Too easy :P

SpinnyRL190 karma

Pineapple on pizza or nah?

iamthatis558 karma

Solid YAH

A1p1n3138 karma

How was interning at Apple ? (I know they have a certain design philosophy that you use very well in Apollo btw)

Did working at Apple help you structure your time better when working on updates ?

E: fixed work to intern.

iamthatis229 karma

It was really awesome, it's so amazing being surrounded by so many super smart people, like the attitude is very infectious. That's almost why I think it's a little bizarre they don't let Apple employees work on apps in their spare time, because you're just super motivated to do cool stuff.

And yeah I'd say so, working on a team helps a lot in general because you're accountable to people right beside you rather than just yourself.

polaroid_kidd24 karma

That's almost why I think it's a little bizarre they don't let Apple employees work on apps in their spare time

Uhmm... What? Seriously?

Weekly_Marionberry39 karma

This is standard at big tech firms. Your job contract generally contains a clause that assigns ownership of all your creative output, on work hours or not, to the company. If you have a personal project you want to work on over weekends you need to get the company to sign a waiver (and often they won't do that if the project is related to the company's business).

iamthatis27 karma

It's common but lots of places don't. Instagram for instance has a lot of talented developers working on side projects, Google I believe as well.

iamthatis14 karma

Yeah it's a really big bummer, and I know a lot of people internally aren't the happiest with the policy.

mongoosefist132 karma

Any plans on making an android version at any point? I still haven't found a reddit app that I've really been happy with.

iamthatis109 karma

Sorry didn't mean to not answer this. I'd love to one day if the time/opportunity presents itself, but currently I just have no time to work on an entire new version of Apollo, the iOS version already takes up 110% of my time as is. :/

Love to the Android folks though, I picked up an Essential phone on Craigslist for $80 somehow and it's seriously awesome.

QWERTYroch111 karma

What advice do you have for people who want to get into iOS design? Even as a programmer, I’ve been daunted by learning a new language and a complex API and a complex IDE. Where did you start, and what do you think is the best way to approach iOS development?

Also, fantastic app! Are you donating tip jar proceeds today as well?

iamthatis142 karma

Yeah, every penny of every dollar, I ain't making a cent today.

It's really not that bad to be honest, when you list it all like that it does sound like it, but I can assure you it isn't. :P Especially if you have other language experience, Xcode and Objective-C were my first IDE/language so if my dumb ass can do it I'm sure you'll be fine. :P

For instance the APIs are super well documented, not only by Apple but by just a myriad of tutorials as well as an active StackOverflow as well as the r/iOSProgramming subreddit. Xcode's a little daunting, but compared to most IDEs I don't find it too bad, you can honestly ignore alomst everything except the editor and the run/compile button, and slowly add more things in as you get comfortable to make it more streamlined. Swift as a language is pretty darn easy too, and very well documented, it removes a lot of the cruft Objective-C had (no knock on Objective-C, still love it), though optionals can be a bit to wrap your head around.

I learned just by reading an old Objective-C book in high school haha, re-reading it until it made more sense. Honestly my best advice though would just be to start building something, even super small, as soon as you can, found getting my hands dirty to help me learn 100x faster than just reading on its own.

keeganzero105 karma

What other apps do you have on your home screen besides Apollo?

iamthatis108 karma

Oo, good question. We got Tweetbot, Instagram, YouTube, Sketch Mirror, Wunderlist, PCalc, Deliveries, Amazon, Spotify, Reeder, 1Password and Alto's Odyssey.

Drew123155 karma

No Facebook.

Good for you.

iamthatis57 karma

Yeah the Instagram is a catch though and I do use FB on the mobile site so I'm not totally free.

stoelwinder98 karma

I was going to start this comment by saying “I hate Apollo”. Not because I don’t like the app, but because of the expectation the app makes me have for other apps. I now want swipe to hide for Facebook and Twitter and nobody seems to be doing that. Especially not as beautiful as Apollo does.

Then I thought about purposely not buying Ultra today, because if I do, you don’t keep any of the money yourself which is only going to strain your resources to keep this amazing - erm, I mean horrible, bad - app going.

Lastly, I thought about not commenting, because it would make you donate even more.

Well, screw you and your amazing app. Wishing you a happy birthday and may you be donating a fortune to SPCA. You’re a wonderful person and an inspiration to all.

Hate to ask, but: any chance you’re adding other social services? :D I need more Apollo in my life.

P.S: muhaha, just bought Ultra! That’ll teach you to be nice to cats! (My kitty just gave me an evil look, so I change my mind: I love cats! Please don’t scratch me)


iamthatis54 karma

Hahahaha, you had me in the first half. I've felt the same way about a lot of apps and wanted to create a similar experience.

It's totally okay, if you really feel that strongly go for a year and donate another time, but even if it's not monetary satisfaction I'm getting today personally there's a lot of satisfaction in knowing animals will be doing well.

Thank you so much though, I'd love to do more social apps, but things like Twitter are super well covered by Tweetbot and Twitterific though. You're the best.

FourFourSix70 karma

Love Apollo, great job there.

Wondering about “unreasonable feature requests”, what are the most annoying and craziest feature request you get?

Is there some requests that get asked a lot, but that is something you’d never implement because it doesn’t fit the app?

iamthatis145 karma

To be honest I can't think of many. I must just be super lucky, maybe it's because most people post through the r/apolloapp subreddit and realize that it's public and if their idea is really stupid/offensive people will downvote it. Or maybe the really really dumb ones are downvoted and I don't see them too often. :P

Some silly requests are based around "I just moved from the official app, I love your app now but wish you did this thing the exact same way the official app does" and it's like, that's totally fair, that's how they expect it to be done, but most of the time it just takes a little settling in to be maybe like "Oh actually I like this better nvm".

Some things like custom vote icons per subreddit give me pause, because… some aren't done well to be blunt, and it feels scary to inject the kinda weird looking ones into the app because I've worked really hard to make it look clean.

FourFourSix49 karma

Yeah the actual thought of couple random JPGs in the button bar below a post just gave me the chills. I don’t know what custom vote buttons actually look like but that’s what comes to mind :D

I’ll make sure to post some stupid feature requests in the future then 👍

iamthatis9 karma

Please do :D

shotnine12 karma

Now I don’t really care for the custom vote icons, but what if users had the option for voting to briefly flash a custom voting icon above or below the voting button itself, or alternatively, a custom icon appearing like how Instagram hearts appear when you like something. Then it wouldn’t detract from the simplicity of the baseline interface.

Edit: Syntax

iamthatis15 karma

That's kinda interesting actually, thanks!

Kush13160 karma

Hey Christian!

What resources do you use to keep up with iOS development trends? Are you following a lot of newsletters? Swift Talk from the objcio guys? Something else?

Thanks! Going to go get Ultra now :)

iamthatis65 karma

Probably not as many as I should haha. I follow Dave Verwer's iOS Dev Weekly, I really like John Sundell's blog, and I watch a bunch of the WWDC videos. Following some really smart iOS devs on Twitter helps a lot too because they often give some awesome insights.

Sshaawnn45 karma

If only people in the world were half as decent as you.. I also have a soft spot for animals, tip coming your way!

Question: what do you think you’d be doing now if Apollo didn’t happen?

iamthatis43 karma

Thank you so much. I'd love to say people would just have to see some cute animals and they'd be helpless not to want to help them, but there's also some gross people out there who abuse them so who knows.

That's a really good question and I kinda feel like an idiot because I've never pondered that for some reason. Hmm. Maybe back at Apple, it was really awesome there.

LookinForRedditName43 karma

Given Apple’s new cross-platform development framework, do you see Apollo being available in Mac?

iamthatis79 karma

I'd love to do it down the road. Apple seemed very clear that you want a good iPad app foundation before embarking on that journey so I want to cross that bridge first though.

TheOptimalGPU40 karma

Love your app. Do you use any trackers in it? This post has just caught my eye: https://reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/cfpec6/the_developer_of_the_reddit_apollo_app_is_doing/

iamthatis49 karma

Just commented there, geez that's an aggressive tone. But in short those are caching domains he mentions so I don't have to hit Imgur's expensive API a billon times, and Firebase's really clear about what they collect, and nothing seems out of place to me, everything's anonymized, they don't track IP addresses, and Apollo doesn't collect anything individually. Furthermore the official Reddit app also uses Crashlytics, it's a pretty standard piece of crash reporting software. I commented for some clarification, if there's something weird going on I'll happily rip it out of Apollo.

sjs40 karma

What are your thoughts on the meme that indie iOS and Mac apps are dying?

iamthatis111 karma

It's definitely not the gold rush era where you could build a fart app over the weekend, release it Monday and be ready for early retirement by Friday. The App Store right now is dominated by large companies like Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat, etc. with billions of dollars so I find it's a lot harder for people to understand paying for stuff anymore haha, because I think they almost subconsciously assume every app is by one of the big companies (which I don't blame them for, it mostly is). So it's harder for indies to thrive when there's such an expectation of free.

But if you're honest and open with your users and provide something they like I definitely think there's still very much a way to carve out a nice niche. :)

mrtbakin35 karma

I find many indie apps, though, just feel so much better for user experience because they’re always made by a few people at the most that know what’s best.

Never mind shelling out a few dollars for those apps.

iamthatis27 karma

If everyone was like you the market would be a lot more vibrant I think :P

sjs3 karma

Agreed. It’s tough out there but there are still many people who appreciate well-crafted apps.

iamthatis3 karma

Exactly, at the very least we'll become like that artisanal sock maker at the local Farmer's Market.


Have you ever had a spiritual experience while coding?

iamthatis82 karma

Is that a thing? Sounds cool, I must be coding wrong.

Sgtchickens38 karma

Not enough acid

iamthatis13 karma

That would do it yeah

RobertAPetersen30 karma

Can we get a ‘block user’ option directly from pressing the three dots next to a users name, or from their profile? Having to memorize the name/spelling while navigating to Settings is annoying sometimes.

iamthatis62 karma

Super. Annoying. Agreed, yeah I will aadd that.

mrtbakin27 karma

What sort of games are you into?

iamthatis57 karma

Oh man. Anything haha, I find it very easy to get addicted to games so while I'm sure I'd love it I don't spend any time on the online games that can take up a lot of time, but I love campaign style games with a story that I can sit down and pick up randomly.

My two favorite games from the last little while were definitely Horizon Zero Dawn and Hollow Knight. Blew me away. Also really liked Life is Strange.

skitech8 karma

Horizon Zero Dawn is so good, also Fuck Ted Faro.

iamthatis8 karma

Without too many spoilers, that man was infuriating

DocWsky19 karma

Currently browsing on Apollo; it’s a fantastic App! Time to help some animals!

Edit: finally got on the Ultra for life train https://i.imgur.com/GPZf8vk.jpg

iamthatis5 karma

Thank you so much <3 <3 <3

TheArchitectOfFate18 karma

Christian ! I love the app! I'm completly stunned that such an amazing app has only a single Dev. There are apps out there that have teams of devs and don't make such a polished product.

As it's the 50th anniversary of the appollo missions, will we be getting a special appollo space program app icon? Maybe something that looks like a nasa mission logo, could be cool.

Keep up the good work, I look forward to the highly anticipated 1.5 features ;)

iamthatis16 karma

Timing wise I don't think I'll be able to get one out for today/very soon unfortunately, but I do have plans for one!And And thank you so much for the kind words :)

shittyTaco17 karma

What’s the most lavish thing you’ve treated yourself to since your app’s success?

iamthatis39 karma

Haha, that's a good question. I like to travel a little, went to Iceland recently but wasn't too lavish I guess. Oh I bought one of those electric skateboard thingies recently too, it's a lot of fun but I'm kinda clumsy so it's also terrifying.

AManBehindYou14 karma

Is it just you working on the app? How many hours would you say you put into it by the time that app got 100,000 downloads?

iamthatis27 karma

It is! My two cats walk across my keyboard sometimes but I hardly would count that as help, if anything's it makes it a little harder.

That's a good question. If I had to estimate I'd say by that point I had probably done 50 hours a week for 2 years so probably about 4 to 5,000 hours or so?

DweadPiwateWoberts10 karma

Do you think that in terms of what you've now made from the app, that comes out to a decent hourly wage?

iamthatis13 karma

I'd say so I think!

CompC14 karma

How did you get into programming, and into iOS development?

As an iOS developer with a small(ish) app... what tips do you have? Anything cool you learned from Apple?

Thanks! I love using Apollo :)

iamthatis12 karma

In 12th grade I was bored in some class I can't remember and I thought iOS development seemed really cool so I bought a book on Objective-C and just read it in class over the course of about a month and then started building some things. :)

Learned a ton from Apple, but more than anything seeing the inner working and all the smart worker bees buzzing around was just super super motivating

xnormajeanx12 karma

What kind of comment counts as spam?

iamthatis13 karma

If you put a modicum of effort into it you should be fine :P Your comment is more than fine for instance

IntenseScrolling12 karma

I was wondering what I was going to do today. Guess I'll be spending some money on Reddit! Christian, what is your favorite thing about Reddit and what is something you hope to change/prevent?

iamthatis16 karma

You're the best kinda person. :) Best part about Reddit is definitely the community, it's easy to get stuck on a few bad apples/communities, but as a whole it's an incredible group capable of some incredible things with incredible memes. I would it never loses the kinda indie feel it has, I love that it still kinda feels like a fledging site in the best possible way.

burritosandpuppies12 karma

How did you approach building Apollo? Did you start with design, functionality, or kinda do both along side one another? What language is Apollo primarily written in?

Also, what advice would you have for a hopeful app creator? I just started learning Swift and Xcode last month and have been having a blast so far.

iamthatis14 karma

Design definitely. Some design you can only figure out by building it out and figuring out it's a terrible idea haha, but far and away the biggest time sink for me is always figuring out how to design something in a way I like it. Most of that is making the flow nice, not visuals. But I did have a bunch of functionality I knew I wanted to have, so that played into the design too obviously.

It's 99% Swift.

My advice would be to jump in and get your hands dirty, building things is the most fun and effective way to learn in my experience. And build something you yourself would like, it really helps a lot with motivation and wanting to finish it.

snakekiller900010 karma

What is it like to work for Apple. Are they caring towards the employes. Do they care about users privacy and security?

iamthatis18 karma

Oh man, yeah I'd say not only do they, but they kind of have like an in-grained culture around it. Like if tomorrow for some reason they decided not to be that way as a policy, it would not go over well because it's just kinda part of how they operate. I know a lot of people who work there who would just flat out refuse to do something they morally disagreed with, or quit. Apple's an enormous company so it's hard to do everything right, but I genuinely do think they care.

shane133310 karma

Hi Christian, Love Apollo I have pro and ultra . I was wondering if you could give us an update on The test flight beta since you said it was going to be out soon and nothing yet. Also what is the latest status of the big iPad update? Thank you for the app and happy birthday man

iamthatis21 karma

Yeah no problem!

  • TestFlight Beta. If I wasn't doing this today I'd probably be submitting it tonight. :P But as it stands probably Monday. Was hoping to have it submitted for yesterday but I was going through the ol' to do list, and I added a bunch of moderator features this build and I realized I forgot to add the banned/muted pages for moderators so just gotta finish those off to be complete.
  • iPad update's going really well. Still a bit of work to do though and I've been putting a lot of time into other smaller features that people have been requesting (better PMing for instance) as well as iOS 13 changes so not as much time as I'd like to work on it lately but still have done a bunch.

100-billion-galaxies10 karma

Could you explain what your app is? I live under a rock, but it sounds interesting

iamthatis37 karma

No prob! It's basically just an alternative the official Reddit app with some different design choices.

I'd say it's kinda like a car, you might be happy with your car and wonder why ever have a different one, but then one day you might try out your friend's car and say "Whoa, I actually kinda like this more, this is fun! The seating position feels nicer, I really like the feel of the steering wheel, the sound system has a bit more punch, and the driving experience is a bit more spirited".

I really wanted to add a bunch of "nice to have" features that just really make the whole experience more pleasant. :D

Specifically there's some really nice gestures that make navigating a breeze, it's really fast, the design hopefully feels super comfortable and at home on iOS, color-coded comments for easy navigation, a really powerful and awesome media viewer for your memes and GIFs, etc.

OhHerroSpreen18 karma

I've been using Apollo for a long time now and have had Pro for as long as I have been using it. I just got lifetime Ultra because of this post. We got our cat at the local SPCA.

He says hello.

iamthatis10 karma

Wow haha, very exotic looking, you got one cool cat. Give some head skritches for me. :) Thank you so much

hshinde9 karma

Firstly, a very Happy Birthday to you 😊 I just bought the pro version, ‘cos you are a cool dude. Who designed the Apollo.app icon? It’s good. Keep up the good work, and may you always prosper.

iamthatis8 karma

Thank you so much. That was me haha, ran out of money to pay a designer so whipped something up myself, very flattered you like it. :P

Selarium9 karma

  1. Why/How did you decide on building a reddit app?
  2. May I ask why the amount of subs you can filter is limited?

iamthatis9 karma

  1. Scratch my own itch, I wanted a Reddit app and there wasn't anything I 100% loved so I wanted to take a swing at it myself.
  2. Not my decision unfortunately. https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/7a4bjo/time_for_my_quarterly_inquisition_reddit_ceo_here/dp71enr/ I'm looking for ways to work around it in Apollo.

JCSHoosier9 karma

Android dev here... any thoughts on recreating this for the Android platform?

iamthatis22 karma

I'd love to one day if I had more time, but learning all the Android development stuff and then rebuilding it effectively from scratch for Android would take a massive amount of time I don't have time for right now, haha

jWlt64006 karma

I think he answered this higher up. But, his philosophy with Apollo has been along the lines of “an iOS app for reddit as if Apple made an app for reddit themselves” (paraphrased a bit, sorry if I messed it up /u/iamthatis !). Because of that, his main focus, target, and intent has been/is Apple/iOS centric. All that to say, I don’t think he will...

Edit: he beat me to it by 3(!) minutes...

iamthatis4 karma

Yeah I think I'd have to like solidly immerse myself in Android for awhile before I even took a swing at it.

g-money-cheats9 karma

How much revenue does the app generate each month?

iamthatis14 karma

I'd rather not get into a specific figure because people like know my account IRL and I'm kind of a private person but it's definitely comfortable, I'm not worried about needing a second job or feeling stupid for turning down an offer from another company. People are awesome and generous in supporting my work so I'm very fortunate, and I love doing the job so I can't really complain whatsoever. :)

GalacticSardine9 karma

Great app and a great thing you’re doing! How do you feel about SwiftUI and how long would you wait before thinking about using it within Apollo?

iamthatis8 karma

I think it's super cool and love it. I think it'll be a year before it's battle-tested enough for my liking, and then maybe I'll start playing around with it then. It's hard because it requires iOS 13 so I'd have to drop support for everything before that in order to use it :/

poodle-feet7 karma

Are you currently working on an iOS 13 build and getting some bugs out of the way, or are you going to wait until the full release?

iamthatis13 karma

Fixing bugs this far out from the release is kinda tricky because it's like hitting a moving target. Having done it in the past and then the bug you just fixed was actually an Apple bug they fixed in the next beta… not too fun

Spudly23197 karma

Christian! Thank you so much for doing this AMA and making an amazing app! I have two questions for you:

1) What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own app, beyond the usual “just stick to it and learn”? Little things along the way you wish you knew/were an impact to the development process?

2) I help organize a group of coders via www.inspireidaho.com, would you ever consider doing a Q&A session over Skype/FaceTime with us? We are sponsored by the University of Idaho, have some direct support from Apple as well as have over 15 groups across the state would would be very interested to pick your brain about the development process!

iamthatis7 karma

  1. Don't be rigid, if users say something sucks be receptive to feedback, it's easy to fall too much in love with one of your designs. Get a lot of feedback in general, it really, really helps. But honestly when it comes down to it, yeah, ship it, most people just leave things as side projects to die.
  2. Would love to! Feel free to email me sometime, me at christianselig.com

minicoop336 karma

Hey Christian, happy birthday! Mine was yesterday so it is a good time of the year!

Anyway, I am currently getting a degree in computer science as well. What suggestions do you have for someone in this degree to set themselves apart from everyone else? Obviously you did it because you interned at Apple which is a feat in itself. I’d love to know your recommendations.

iamthatis7 karma

Happy belated. :D

Oh that's an easy one, do some side projects. I found at least with my degree it was super easy to graduate with the degree and some theoretical knowledge of programming but nothing concrete to show for it. Build some cool things you can show off to potential interviewers, they love that stuff. :)

GreenCinder6 karma

What’s your favorite text face in Apollo?

iamthatis14 karma


I don't know why

notyourbish6 karma

Will we ever be able to filter subreddits from r/popular?

iamthatis8 karma

Yeah I'll make it so r/all filters apply to r/popular as well, would only make sense to be honest.

RazorwireRose6 karma

Hi Christian!

My other half used to work for Apple, and left to go back into school for coding and computing qualifications. Unfortunately he’s been hit by the struggle bus and is starting to romanticise his time back there.

Any words of encouragement or advice?

p.s thank you for Apollo. It’s the only app I’m happy to continually pay money for. I hope my tiny input helps make a difference!

iamthatis6 karma

As in your other half is having difficulties with school and missing working at Apple? That's a tough one, I was not great at school either and graduated with not a lot of room to spare. :P I might not be the best one to offer advice, but I guess it depends on why they're there. If they're back at school because they have a passion for learning and want to get as much out of it as they can, I'd say just remember whey they're there, it's temporary, and they'll come out the other side improved and better rounded. If they're there for other reasons, well just grit your teeth and get through with it, it'll be over soon. :P

Thanks for the kind words. :) It definitely does.

ImaHazardtoSociety5 karma

Hi Christian! Can you say trans rights?

Freakin love your app :)

iamthatis7 karma

Trans rights ftw

bwaugh065 karma

Hey! Happy birthday Christian! Huge fan. I'm an Enterprise developer as well working with Netsuite, SAP, and Salesforce out of San Diego and I've spent the last few years of any free time I've had working on a news + reddit aggregator (www.newzible.com) with a focus on a better UI for desktops and filtering out the low quality content. It's no where near the level of polish and usability of Apollo (especially on mobile) but it's what I've been able to figure out thus far with few resources.


What is it like working with Reddit initially getting approved and did they see you as a threat or an opportunity? Do you pay a portion to them for usage of the platform?

How did you grow and scale the app and the expenses? Technical question, Reddit videos are weird to work with as the audio and video are separate how did you overcome this? Are there any helpful APIs you used?

How did you meet other people to help you in your venture? What are you plans with regards to the future for this?

Yes I know all these questions are all over the board :)

iamthatis3 karma

Wow, it looks super slick. Very fast too, nicely done!

Reddit's honestly been great, they don't seem threatened (nor should they, their app dwarfs mine in downloads haha), and they've even been very receptive to questions. The initial approval process wasn't anything more than filling out a form and waiting to hear back to be honest, which even that didn't take too long. Though that was years back now so I'm not sure about current processes. No payment split currently as they haven't requested anything like that, but if they deem that necessary or would like to discuss it I'm more than open to it!

Scaling wasn't too bad, basically all iOS development stuff is done on the user's device so scaling was kind of… automatic? Distribution is through the App Store obviously too which I don't have to worry about. I have some server side stuff but it's paid so that I don't have to lose sleep about it.

Reddit videos are weird. iOS handles HLS natively so it's not too much to get playing, but beyond that is a little tricky. I haven't done enough with it to be able to offer much advice unfortunately haha.

Haven't met a ton of other people in a professional sense, but made some cool friends along the way. Not sure how that might change haha.

PublicDomain34 karma

Just wanted to say thanks first of all.

My SO does not understand Reddit. I use Android she has an Iphone so many times if I send a link it brings her to safari browser Reddit, then Reddit spams her to download their app.

I truly think the way you have designed this will help her a ton. She really enjoys Pinterest but is jaded after their total overhaul. Are their any settings within the app that she should turn on/off to help her navigate and familiarize herself with how Apollo for Reddit works?

iamthatis6 karma

Haha yeah it's a bit to contend with at first for sure. Hopefully I don't think there's anything that makes it too difficult to pick up, unless she has an aptitude for triggering gestures accidentally, I should add an option to disable those. There's also an option in the share sheet once you download Apollo to add an "Open in Apollo" option so that might help her some too with being able to funnel the links into Apollo at least.

Confucius_said4 karma


iamthatis6 karma

Those Ray Bans?

4thinversion3 karma

Hi Christian! Thanks for doing this AMA.

When Apollo first came out, I had asked if there was a way to revamp the messaging system from within the app, do be more like the comments in that you could see what you’re replying to or to be more like a chat room style... any chance of that still happening?

How has Apollo changed your life? Anything, good or bad!

Also, you made a product that was able to replace Alien Blue in my life, and that is quite a feat. I exclusively use Apollo and it’s so smooth and polished. Thanks for all your hard work, and keep being amazing.


Went and bought lifetime ultra just now because I’m a sucker for kitties. <3

iamthatis8 karma

The beta for that's hopefully going out Monday, I just basically completely finished that the other day, so you're in luck. :D

Apollo's gave me the freedom to work from home and just feel a lot freer in life, meet some really cool people, and learn a ton. I honestly can't list all the amazing things it's done for me, I feel so fortunate. The only negative is that I don't have coworkers so it can be kinda lonely at times, missing hanging out with colleagues.

That's very high praise too, thank you so much. <3

menagerie-3 karma

I think I already know the answer, but cats or dogs?

iamthatis15 karma

I honestly have no clue. I have cats right now because I'm kinda young and live in an apartment and my life's a little all over the place so I'm not sure I could provide the environment a dog requires, they're a lot of work! Cats are a little less maintenance, they probably have their lives together better than I do.

But my building is dog friendly so whenever I see one of my neighbors' dogs I freak out because I love them. Hope to get one some day. :D

tananinho3 karma

Is this app ios only?

iamthatis5 karma

Yeah unfortunately at the moment, I'm just one guy and porting it to different platforms is a ton of work that I don't have time for currently :(

ElectroclassicM3 karma

What an amazing backstory. I was set to ask what inspired you to built this app, but I guess I got my question answered lol. Anyways, My other question is, if you were to add a new feature to iOS, what would it be?. Rephrasing, What would be the perfect iOS feature, both for developers and for users?

iamthatis5 karma

Haha yeah, nothing too original, just scratching my own itch kinda thing. :P

Oh man that's an easy one, ability to set third party apps as the default action. So many people ask how they can make Reddit links open automatically in Apollo. I have a utility in the share sheet that helps, but the fact that there's no way to do it automatically is a bummer.

GreenBPartsUnknown3 karma

Hey Christian! Long time fan and Apollo user here. First of all, thank you so much for everything and I wish you a happy birthday.

Will Apollo be around for our kids and grandkids to enjoy? :)

iamthatis11 karma

Thank you! :D And I'd love that, working on Apollo is a dream, I legitimately love my job and hope I never have to stop. After 4 years I legitimately don't feel any less invigorated.

GreenBPartsUnknown3 karma

Glad to hear that my man, keep on fighting the good fight. Hero of Redditors, hero of animals :)

iamthatis2 karma


SpecificEnough2 karma

Wow, you sir are lucky. You’re definitely in the right field!

iamthatis3 karma

I definitely feel very fortunate

viking_redbeard2 karma

Why are you so awesome? Apollo is awesome, I’ve picked up all the extras. You are not earning nearly enough from this app, I’m sure.

iamthatis3 karma

Oh don't worry about me, people are more than generous, I have a great life! I guess I just love what I do and hope that comes across, I'm very fortunate to be able to do this and being dumb about it would be… dumb

j_fak2 karma

Hey Christian! Big fan of Apollo, I recommend it every chance I get. Planning on upgrading to Ultra as soon as I get some extra funds.

What are your 5 favorite albums of all time?

iamthatis6 karma

Oh man, I'm not musical enough to answer that well, haha. Like I love music but I'm more of a one-off song listener rather than an album guy. But some of the few albums I listen do repeatedly in their entirety are probably from Muse, Metric, and Eminem.

cattlebull2 karma

Are you already getting help on development of the app or is it still a 1 one show?

iamthatis3 karma

Currently just a 1 man show!

lman21212 karma

Hi Christian!

Finally bought Apollo Pro after using free for a few months now. I’m happy to support you and donate to a good cause. Thanks for making this amazing Reddit client that I use entirely too much! My screen time app in settings is very disappointed in me (Exhibit A😳). Anyway, my question is do you have any plan or ambition for a completely original app or project outside of Apollo/Reddit?

Thanks again and happy birthday!! You’re awesome!! 🥳

iamthatis2 karma

Hahaha that's amazing. And maybe some day but not currently, Apollo's so fulfilling to build at the moment that I'm in no rush to explore other things haha. Thank you! :)

domasszn1 karma

Hey Chris, ive been an astronaut on Apollo for a while now and it seems these updates just keep on coming, never disappointing us & you’re extremely engaging with us & on behalf of the other astronauts i thank you for that. But my question is when you aren’t busy improving Apollo & making us happy with bug fixes and what not what do you do? Not everyone has a job they love and seeing that you do, what else comes close to a huge role in your life?!

iamthatis2 karma

Oh hmm. My life isn't super interesting haha, I like to kick back and relax a lot, lately I've enjoyed longboarding and some travel, oh and woodworking, but sitting back with some Netflix is always very enjoyable. :)

imgonnabutteryobread1 karma

Can you donate a few bucks specifically for this comment? I don't feel like spamming this thread.

iamthatis4 karma

Well spam won't count anyway because I'm sure the mods would hate me and it's not really in the spirit of it, but you've generated $0.20 since I replied

destructifier1 karma

Pander to the masses much?

iamthatis1 karma

If pandering helps save some cats or dogs I will be grand marshal of the Pander Parade

Yaced1231 karma

Holy crap. You are a hero I didn’t know I had.

I have two things on my iPhone home screen, the calendar to know what day it is, and your app!


I am downloading ultra now.. The only reason I didn’t have it because the free version is really good. I don’t know what ultra will bring, but I’m happy to support your fantastic work.

100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?

iamthatis2 karma

Wow, that's a legitimate honor. Nice taste with Focus at the bottom there too. :)

Thank you so much.

I'd take the 100 duck sized horses. Hopefully I don't have to fight them or anything because that sounds really cute to play with.

Gizoogle1 karma

Christian!!! You're the best. You've responded to everything I've asked (or harassed, sorry) you about on Twitter and I just want you to know how great it is to have your favorite app have such a down-to-earth developer. I always know a problem is going to get fixed and communicated, and that is something sorely lacking in the modern app ecosystem-- so thank you for that!

My question: what has been your #1 resource for learning iOS app development/Swift? As someone interested in breaking into the field (largely in thanks to Apollo!), there's a lot out there-- so was there a website/program that was like a bible to your career development?

Much love! <3

iamthatis2 karma

Hahaha, thanks, happy to respond, people have great ideas. :D

Honestly my best resource has just been trying things out, like if I want to learn a new API, I try to get the gist of the docs or briefly read a tutorial, then just try to use it and if I get snagged on something that's when I start looking up help, I find I learn a lot faster by doing than reading. Mostly following general tutorials like "how to build a to do list app" then gradually increasing in difficulty was definitely the best way I found to learn.

jWlt64001 karma

Less of a question...

Absolutely love the app. Especially seeing the purple for the username of the OP of this. Well done! Happy birthday as well!

To give a question... What do you think will be the next big step for Apollo? (yes I did make a pun)

Plus an Apollo app AMA on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing? Did you plan something???

iamthatis2 karma

Hahahaha. The next big one will definitely be the iPad app. :) I honestly didn't plan that, beautiful coincidence.

one23ginger1 karma

Do you plan to keep making apps?

iamthatis2 karma

Yeah, it's too much fun not to :P

cwbh101 karma

I'm a rising senior ECE (Electrical & Computer Engineering), and I'm more of a hardware person, but do you think that if I were to get into one industry (e.g. software development) it would be hard to switch? Maybe not the right place to ask, but since you clearly have experience with software development I'd love to hear your opinion :)

And yay for the cats!

iamthatis2 karma

Naw, I think you could make the jump from being a full time sea turtle to being a programmer fairly easy, it's all just about putting the hours in. If you're willing to do that you're golden. :)

Syng4201 karma

What's your favorite color, animal, show, novel, ice cream flavor and subreddit?

iamthatis2 karma

Orange maybe, ocelots, Daredevil, Ender's Game, orange pineapple, and r/whatcouldgowrong

itachixsasuke0 karma

Are you joining in for the Area 51 raid?

iamthatis3 karma

Been practicing my naruto run all week

MinoSquinn0 karma

Happy birthday!!! 🎉🎁 😸What’s your favorite r/?

iamthatis1 karma

r/whatcouldgowrong right now I think, I love the whole "fails" category in general. :P

tdmd-1 karma

Waiting for iPad version to purchase Ultra. Can you run a special reduced price for Ultra like you did when you first launched the option?

iamthatis3 karma

No plans currently unfortunately. :( The lifetime pricing is hard because it's… well lifetime. If anything I could see it going up eventually so consider it on sale now. :P

IcemanofOz-11 karma

I hate cats. Cats are cunts that destroy the native environment. Why would you help sustain something that is so evil?

iamthatis4 karma

How do they destroy the native environment exactly? Like getting out and eating birds and whatnot? That's totally fair criticism, my cats are indoor cats per the recommendation of our vet, they typically live a lot longer that way and local wildlife doesn't suffer.