EDIT: Over! I'm totaling up the donations! Will update shortly!

Hey!

As a short intro, my name's Christian Selig, today's my 27th birthday, and I'm a programmer. I build the Apollo for Reddit app and worked at Apple prior to that. Last year through the Reddit community we broke the all-time, single day donation record for my SPCA. This year with the SPCA needing the help more than ever, I'm determined to beat that record and raise even more money this year!

In the summer of 2014 I was getting my Computer Science degree in eastern Canada and was lucky enough to land an internship at Apple all the way over in Cupertino, California, which was a long way from home! I learned an absolute ton there and it really changed my life and made me want to build apps as a career, after seeing how amazing it is how many people you can reach with an app you create.

So I set out to build my Reddit app Apollo after not being satisfied with any of the Reddit apps available. I wanted something super fast and lean, while also having a ton of power features and a really clean design that's fun to use. Fortunately that resonated with a lot of people, and Apollo garnered a lot of interest and had a lot of beta testers, making the eventual release really, really awesome and now it's gone on to be downloaded over 2 million times and it's been my full-time job since way back in 2015 after I graduated university. It's iOS only for now (and was voted the best iOS Reddit app) but I'd love to build it for Android too one day if I get the chance (I'm just one guy building this and time is tight)!

So, what's the plan for raising a bunch of money for the SPCA?

  • Today, 100% of the proceeds from the app will go to the SPCA Animal Shelter in Nova Scotia. I need to break that donation record. If you have even a passing interest in Apollo, today's an awesome day to unlock the Pro or Ultra version, but even if you already have, I went a step further this year and commissioned a really gorgeous custom app icon by the almost offensively talented David Lanham. Not only today, but every day going forward forever, all the proceeds from that icon will be going to the Nova Scotia SPCA, so unlocking that icon would mean an absolute ton to me. Here's a peek at the icon. It also comes with some custom wallpapers and an Apollo Community Pets Photo Album!
  • You can also donate directly to the fundraiser page I created, which would be amazing! https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/apollo-app-2020-spca-fundraiser/ This gives you a direct way to donate if you already have the app, or just are awesome and want to donate directly. This is terrific too if you work for a cool company that does donation-matching, which would double your donation!
  • For every comment this thread gets, I'll donate $0.10 (including my own answers), so if you have even a silly question, go for it! (Just don't spam haha, don't want to create trouble for the mods)

Why right now? Everything okay with the shelter?

This warm time of the year is really rough on the shelter. These months are dubbed "kitten season" because it's far and away the most active times for kittens to give birth. The shelters get overwhelmed with orphaned and surrendered (and sometimes left for dead) kittens from owners who are surprised to find their cat gave birth, and the shelter's resources (like food) get incredibly strained. A tidal wave of kittens sounds cute in theory, but it's seriously overwhelming.

Worse, with the COVID pandemic, kitten season is poised to be even worse this year with less people bringing in their pets to be neutered, and less adoptions occurring from people staying inside, so they're really hurting more than ever.

EDIT: Over! I'm totaling up the donations! Will update shortly!

Comments: 428 • Responses: 96  • Date: 

boxofkangaroos183 karma

Hi Christian! Longtime user and lover of Apollo here.

Have you ever gotten any direct pushback from Reddit for making a competing app? It seems like it would be against Reddit's interest for there to be such a high-quality third-party Reddit client in the App Store. What issues have you encountered?

iamthatis258 karma

No actually, Reddit's been great. Reddit has an API program where you actually get your app licensed and everything, so Apollo's fully recognized in the kind eyes of Reddit and I even got a job offer the day after Apollo came out haha.

To be honest, the official app trounces me in downloads. Like 100:1 I bet. They can plaster it everywhere like the mobile site and I just can't compete with that. So for one, I don't think they have any reason to worry because they've got the marketing I don't.

But even beyond that, Reddit is a massive site, and Reddit is such a personal experience that you can't just build one experience and have it be the best for everyone. I think Reddit realizes that given how long they've awesomely supported their API that powers third-party apps. For instance I have a lot of users who are like "If Apollo wasn't around, I straight up wouldn't use Reddit because I don't like the official app", so for users like that it's great for them to have an alternative app because they straight up just wouldn't use the website otherwise. And my app wouldn't fit for everyone either!

tl;dr: I think they realize a one-size-fits-all approach would suck, and having the option to choose what matters to you in a Reddit client largely benefits everyone and attracts more users.

SivarCalto110 karma

For instance I have a lot of users who are like "If Apollo wasn't around, I straight up wouldn't use Reddit because I don't like the official app"

This was me with Alien Blue. Until I found Apollo. Thank you! ❤️

iamthatis37 karma

No prob, I never get tired of hearing that haha

more_beans_mrtaggart12 karma

Apollo is the best reddit app I’ve seen and that includes the play store.

r/apollo on the other hand is a shitstorm of teenage gatekeepers. I stuck it out a year or two, but watching them downvote to hell any fanart, merch ideas, help requests, or anything that wasn’t feature requests was getting tedious. I haven’t missed it a bit.

iamthatis9 karma

Ah that's such a bummer, I hate when communities needlessly spile into toxicity

Tex-Rob24 karma

Hmm, your thoughtful explanation has made me want to see this app now.

iamthatis3 karma

Lemme know what you think :)

MikeCamel82 karma

Love the app. Easily my most used app. I def will donate today. Happy Birthday also!

As someone who works in IT, I'm good with doing the admin stuff and all that other troubleshooting, but I want to get into more of coding. I'm looking to learn some Python 3. Any recommendations on where I should look for courses (I'm using udemy) and some good study tactics to help this all sink in my head?

Hope you enjoyed my pics of my kitty, Caramel!

iamthatis75 karma

Thank you so much! <3

Honestly my best advice would be to not "study" too much, just get your hands dirty. Write some scripts to parse some numbers, or scrape a movie API, etc. Something that interests you. That'll motivate you to stick with it so much better and for me at least the hands-on approach is so much quicker to learn with than just simply reading. So read some, for sure, but spend most of your time building and then Google for answers. :)

Caramel was a serious cutie

MikeCamel8 karma

Will do! Thanks for the reply and enjoy your day!

iamthatis3 karma

No prob!

kitchen_clinton-2 karma

I tried to download it today but it needs IOS 10. Why do most developers not try to keep their apps backward compatible with the plethora of devices that people still use? I understand that some newer features will not work(such as rpan) but as it is mostly a text reader there is no reason why an older device cannot use it. I use to have it and now it didn't even give me the choice to install an older version.

iamthatis5 karma

It's because it's a big time commitment to support older devices. iOS 9 was announced over half a decade ago, and currently around 0.5% are my users are even on iOS 10, so it's just not worth the time commitment to support an OS so few people use.

No offense meant, but the fact you think it's that simple to support older devices shows you're not a programmer. Operating systems add new APIs every year that make things a lot easier to do as developers, having to defer using them for years because of older versions of the operating systems is something that seriously slows down development. For instance, Apple released a brand new UI framework last year, so it requires iOS 13 or higher. Thankfully 96% of my users are on iOS 13, but it's not something I can use until I can require iOS 13 at a minimum, otherwise I'd need to build the UI in the old way to support old users PLUS the new way going forward.

Now apply that going back half a decade to iOS 9 where virtually everyone with those devices has upgraded by now. I just don't have the time when I could spend that instead making the app better for the other 99.5% of users.

MikeCamel3 karma

I mean, iOS 10 is compatible with iPhone 5 and later. If you can't update to iOS 10, that must mean you are using it on a 4s or earlier so that would mean your phone is 9+ years old.... I personally don't think developers should need to support phones that old. Older phones use different chips and different aspect size ratios as well which makes it hard for the developer to support older phones.

kitchen_clinton-3 karma

Actually, it's an Ipad 4 but, you know, it's software. A simple IF Statement could make my device work but the IF statement That is inserted instead puts up a dialog box that tells me my device is not supported. I am using it right now with the Reddit app.

iamthatis3 karma

That's… that's not how programming works at all.

kitchen_clinton1 karma

So why is it your app won't work when at one time it did? Could you not have kept it current with software fixes that allowed it to work with an older OS? If anything, you could have an older version in the app store that will download when a newer one would not work.

iamthatis1 karma

Apollo was released after iOS 9, in other words it never shipped with iOS 9 support since that was so long ago. If it did have an iOS 9 version the App Store would do exactly as you're describing, yes.

wheyyyyyy44 karma

Hey Christian, thank you for all that you do!
How do you manage building and maintaining this app all by yourself? I assume the codebase would've grown huge by now!

iamthatis63 karma

It's tricky but a lot of fun. :) The community around the app helps a ton by providing awesome feedback, so it makes it easy for me to know what to focus on when I can tell exactly what people want.

In terms of building it yes it's a very large app indeed haha. But I know it pretty well inside and out and (it's like my baby after all) so it's not too daunting or anything, since everything is pretty modular it's just like building new components onto an existing house. :)

VortexHero35 karma

How are you answering these questions? On a phone using Apollo, on an early iPad version, or something else?

Also, great cause! Glad this question was able to contribute 10 cents. =D

iamthatis50 karma

I do most of my replying from my computer with an external keyboard and mouse just because I type a ton and doing it ergonomically is important. I built this cool split keyboard that helps a ton thanks to r/MechanicalKeyboards. Last year despite taking every precaution during the AMA I still had to ice my wrists after, ow. But I can type pretty fast thankfully!

VortexHero14 karma

Sick keyboard and thanks for the insight! I haven't really ever used an ergonomic keyboard, but maybe I should look into it. Hope your wrists are fine after this AMA, looking at your responses you are typing a lot, lol.

iamthatis7 karma

I am indeed. :P Yeah it's really nice to have your hands split further apart plus not completely flat on the desk, really helps my wrist fatigue, I'd definitely recommend one of those keyboards.

mmm_toasty27 karma

Hey Christian, thanks for doing this AMA and running this fundraiser.

What would you say is the trickiest piece of code you had to write for your app? Is there anything right now that you have in the works that you're finding particularly challenging?

iamthatis76 karma

Oo good question. I'd say probably without a doubt the media viewer. Creating a good media viewer is a really, really tricky deal. Reddit has so many different sources of media, from Imgur, to Gfycat, to Streamable, to YouTube, to Reddit's own image hosts, and it's really easy for a lot of apps just to plop you over to the mobile webpage for that link and say "have fun lol", but a lot of these apps mobile websites are just terrible, so I wanted to make sure they're all viewed natively in the app, say like the system Photos app or whatever. And beyond just different websites, there's so many different kinds of media, from images, to GIFs, to videos, to albums, to now Imgur and Gfycat has "GIFs with audio" (basically just videos that are fancy).

It's a lot to juggle elegantly, and dealing with all their APIs can get expensive to boot. The first month I went over my API quota and got charged $18,000 by Imgur (thankfully reversed, heart attack almost occurred).

In terms of that I have in the works now, I'm working on an all new iPad app that takes much better advantage of the bigger screen and all tablets have to offer, and it's basically a rewrite in a lot of areas, so it's insanely difficult.

Carnifex12 karma

Why did they reverse it? How much do you pay now (if you still use the API at all)?

iamthatis35 karma

Their system is supposed to have failsafes and methods that alert the user at least (if not prevent) when the fee gets that catastrophically high. Apparently Apollo blew threw them so quick that the failsafes failed, so they agreed to reverse it after a long back and forth.

(It's also worth mentioning that going over is SUPER expensive, it's not like it actually costs them that much. For instance the first million requests work out to $0.000041667 per request (yes 1,000 requests would cost 4 cents), whereas after the first million in the overage category it suddenly shoots up to 1 penny PER REQUEST.)

Now it's "only" hundreds of dollars a month. I have a caching server sitting in front of the Imgur API so it prevents redundant requests and cuts down on the fee tremendously.

photovirus9 karma

Oh dear, a caching server for imgur.

Is it a single server or a CDN?

iamthatis7 karma

Single server suffices for now. It's much faster in my tests than the Imgur API (due to the aggressive caching) that I haven't had much of a need to do a CDN additionally.

Carnifex3 karma

Oh so the requests are just to the proper URLs and stuff for the images, the actual images requested by the clients are not billed to your account.

iamthatis3 karma

Exactly, though in a lot of cases even getting to those images requires the API because people don't post the direct links.

SPSTIHTFHSWAS26 karma

What did you work on in Apple & how was the experience there?

What are your hot takes in programming?

iamthatis32 karma

I worked mostly on internal tools within the company that would hopefully make things go smoother for Apple employees. The experience was awesome, there's that expression that's like "If you're the smartest person in the room you're in the wrong room", Apple was like "Everyone in this county is smarter than you" but in like a super inspiring way.

Hot takes… I'm not a big fan of the "build one use everywhere" stuff like React Native and similar tools, heck the same applies to a lot of the server side Swift stuff even though I use Swift daily. That's just me though, and I'm kind of a moron, and I like Go.

essequattro10 karma

Any tips on snagging an internship there? 😄

iamthatis26 karma

My recruiter said the thing that made my resume stand out was the fact I had an app in the App Store and not a lot of other applicants did that. So build something cool that you can put on your resume and the recruiter can actually go download and tangibly explore.

dadofbimbim22 karma

Hi Christian thank you for the Apollo app. What is your current workstation setup?

iamthatis23 karma

I posted it on r/battlestations a little while back, it honestly hasn't changed much, it's pretty much perfect for me: https://www.reddit.com/r/battlestations/comments/chc38f/where_i_build_apps_setup_is_finally_coming/

bking11 karma

Glad your 2009 Mac Mini is still holding up.

iamthatis9 karma

Hahaha thank you. I regret to inform you it no longer is, makes a sad noise when I try to turn it on then just gives up. :(

dadofbimbim5 karma

Wow not expecting you’re still using 2009 Mac Mini. I do iOS app dev too and my MBP 2012 is still kinda holding up.

eymantia11 karma

Spoiler: He's not. r/battlestations didn't allow laptop-based setups at the time (although it seems to have changed to now allow laptops with external peripherals in a "docked" kind of setup), hence the sarcastic comment "Powerful desktop that ties everything together, 2009 Mac mini 2.53 GHz. No laptops here!!" from Christian

iamthatis9 karma

Yeah exactly. They came around though so my canonical setup would pass. :P

iamthatis3 karma

Yeah as said I'm not haha, sorry to trick you. :( It's indeed a 2016 MacBook Pro that I use and even that is feeling slow lately, I very much admire you using a 2012 one!

Phooboos17 karma

Hey Christian—big fan!

What are your thoughts on Big Sur?

iamthatis31 karma

I love it with one massive caveat. The look is fun and fresh, though took a bit to get used to, and all the Apple Silicon stuff is crazy fun. I have one of those Developer Transition Kits and it's so cool.

The one caveat is that my most-used app/utility, Karabiner Elements, doesn't work on Big Sur so I can't use it full-time because 90% of my keyboard shortcuts are broken. :P Should be fixed by the fall though.

anothersweng3 karma

Big Sur

I was a massive user of Karabiner Elements as well, but I moved to a 60% keyboard with a decent support for configurations (Anne Pro 2) and I deleted ALL my settings from Karabiner and moved on the keyboard directly (even the OS based one). This is also great as I can use the keyboard on a different machine and bring all the settings with me (and cross OS). Just to share a personal story!

iamthatis2 karma

That's really smart, I was thinking about a similar path but I use my stock MacBook keyboard a lot as well if I'm just coding on the couch for instance.

eymantia3 karma

Unless we're talking complex rules in Karabiner, shouldn't you be able to emulate a lot of them on your keyboard using QMK or VIA?

iamthatis4 karma

I do some decently advanced stuff (wow that sounds a lot fancier than it deserves), basically around mapping the caps lock key + HJKL to vim arrow keys, or just tapping caps lock to escape, etc. which require lower level bindings.

jointadventure14 karma

Hey Christian, thanks for the awesome work!

My question: Is Reddit aware of your app and do you know what they think about it? Did they reach out to you to make it the official Reddit App for iOS? :P

iamthatis46 karma

About a year into developing Apollo, Alien Blue got bought out by Reddit and became the official app, I remember my roommate being like "Whooaaa whatcha gonna do?" (answer: not really much different, Apollo was always competing with Alien Blue, now it's just competing with someone even bigger!). Then they ended up sunsetting Alien Blue in favor of a new official app, so I don't think they're in the market to buy Apollo but hey I've always wanted a boat hit me up guys

They are aware of Apollo though! I have a very nice contact at Reddit for questions I have, and Apollo's fully licensed as a Reddit app and everything. Reddit's been very nice toward Apollo. :)

bcrabbers27 karma

I don't think they're in the market to buy Apollo but hey I've always wanted a boat hit me up guys

Don’t. You. Dare!!

iamthatis46 karma

⛵️

ImJustAverage15 karma

When I moved back to an iPhone I was looking for Alien Blue because it’s what I had used before when I had an IPhone and I had no idea why I couldn’t find it, well now I know.

Because I couldn’t find it I decided to try Apollo... and it’s a great app. I bought premium within a day or two of downloading the app and it’s absolutely worth it.

Great app, keep it up!

iamthatis7 karma

Haha glad it got you to Apollo then I suppose, but yeah the person who built Alien Blue went on to work on the official Reddit app team for awhile I believe.

DontAskDontTeII14 karma

Hi Christian, thank you so much for the wonderful app. Apollo Pro is awesome and you are a wonderful developer to continually try to improve things for us :)

I was curious though... is there any chance we could get a feature, like Slide for iOS or Boost for Android have, which allows us to “filter” out the type of posts that show in a forum?

For example, when I go on the AWW or NatureIsF**kingLit subreddits, I only want to see GIFs and Videos as I scroll down the feed. I don’t want to have to continually scroll through post after post of Images, Links, Text, Albums, etc.

Screenshot of Filter Feature

iamthatis22 karma

Huh, will look into that, I can think of a few ways to do that, that's a good idea!

DontAskDontTeII9 karma

You are awesome! Thank you for the reply and consideration 😊

This feature, along with cross-posting support (fingers crossed for 1.9 🤞🏻), are the only two things I truly crave since moving over to iOS.

Btw is there any way to donate to you directly? I figure Apple takes out a 30% cut from the app tips and would rather 100% of it go to you.

Hope you have a great birthday and take care 🥳

iamthatis12 karma

Yeah! You can go directly via PayPal with tipjar at apolloapp.io, that's really really kind of you. :)

Can't wait to make this your perfect client. :D And crossposting is indeed in 1.9!

Despicable_Genius13 karma

Would you please make an android app? Apollo is the only thing really holding me to iPhones because I’ve never seen a good android reddit app.

iamthatis18 karma

It would take a ton of time to rebuild the app for Android, so it's not something I have ready to release any time soon, but maybe some day if the iOS app becomes feature complete. :)

8ozLambChop12 karma

Hey Christian,

First off want to say Apollo is a great app. Especially love how it (an you) strives to help the world.

What recommendations would you have for any college students interested in pursuing a career in software development? (Especially at Apple or making an app)?

iamthatis18 karma

Umm… DO IT! It's awesome. :P

In terms of professional advice, build something. Employers LOVE that, when you can like show up to an interview (or mention it on your resume) and be like "Yeah, I built this, check it out". It's so much more tangible than having a great GPA (which is awesome too, don't get me wrong, but I didn't exactly have that going for me).

And thank you!!

Shakeamutt11 karma

Hi Christian, Love the app and your support for your local SPCA. And the cats are cute too.

By my calculations, your 10,000 day is December 6th of this year.

What games do you play to relax? Console or iPhone.

iamthatis15 karma

Thank you!! And whoaaa, TIL about 10,000 day. That's cool! That's coming up quick.

Oo, I'll play just about anything. My faves of recent memory have been Hollow Knight, Last of Us 1/2, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Witcher 3, and Ori.

jointadventure10 karma

Will there be a public beta for a (potential) Apollo for macOS App?

iamthatis16 karma

I'd like to, will have to figure out how to logistically do that since Apple's still curiously missing a "TestFlight for Mac" (it's iOS only).

eymantia3 karma

Maybe with iOS apps on the App Store will come TestFlight? One can hope, I guess

iamthatis2 karma

Huh, maybe, I can't help but think they'll launch it any day now, it's a weird omission.

better_off_now10 karma

Hey Christian, do you have any tips for a developer who is getting started with iOS?

iamthatis20 karma

Just get started. :P Grab a tutorial like Hacking with Swift which has a bunch of awesome beginner tutorials, and just get building. The sooner you start getting your hands dirty the sooner you'll be building something really cool. It's easy to just read and read and read and have it go in one ear and out the other (and you should do some reading!) but really actually building things, however small, even just a little grocery list app, is the best way to keep learning.

gh0sti9 karma

Where do we go to unlock the icon in apollo app?

EDIT, nvm I see the unlock icon part.

Another question, how are you able to pull this off with Apple selling a custom icon as a donation? I'm surprised they are allowing this type of IAP.

iamthatis14 karma

I was expecting a tiny bit of back and forth, but they were really cool about it, Apple does a lot of charity stuff with their employees so it's not too surprising tbh.

mxwanis8 karma

Happy birthday and thank you for doing this, Christian!

How do you manage your income since Apollo is your full time job? Are there months where money comes short? What do you do to plan ahead?

What’s your advice for people who want/dream about being able to work full time as indie developer?

iamthatis18 karma

Thankfully people are very generous with supporting Apollo. I think they realize it's a one-person shop and I put a lot of time, effort, and love into the app and as a result they're happy to support it by buying Pro or what have you. As a result of this I thankfully haven't had a month where I came up short, but knock on wood I suppose. :P

My advice would treat it like any side dream, unless you're very confident don't quit everything to do it because it's HARD, but spend a bunch of side-time like after work (within reason) to build it out and garner interest, and once it seems like it'll be able to sustain you, take the plunge. It's kinda cheating with tech/apps I will say though, however, the job market is good enough that even if you fail eventually and the app falls through, your life isn't ruined and it's not too hard to find another job. Things like being a novelist are much scarier, lots of respect for those folks.

mxwanis2 karma

Thank you 😊

iamthatis2 karma

No prob :)

favorited7 karma

You posted (what I assume was) test content on Twitter, with the flair “Bokuto uwu SPIKE.” What are you most excited to see when Haikyuu!! returns in the fall?

Also, we have the same birthday! Happy birthday! 😝

iamthatis11 karma

Oh man you're like the first person to catch that reference. :P I'm just looking forward to seeing the match with the Miya twins most of all. But my girlfriend is a heavy reader of the manga, which finished today (RIP) and there's so much more to look forward to if you haven't read the manga, she's a mess today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

favorited1 karma

Haha I almost replied to your tweet with a "hey hey hey" but I save my anime callouts for Reddit. I hope your girlfriend is coping, endings aren't easy.

And happy birthday to a certain Great King...

iamthatis2 karma

She's doing… okay. :P And yeah I almost forgot about the Oikawa connection until she reminded me this morning hahaha. I am honored. Him and Bokuto are probably my faves.

Zadigre7 karma

Just bought this icon...

and I also sent pictures of my two cats last week (I saw them in your album)... both were adopted in a local shelter.

and my question is... how can you be so nice? (yeah... you're Canadian like me... but still...)

iamthatis5 karma

Psshh, it's not that hard to imagine honestly, I bet you'd do this too yeah?

Liamiller6 karma

Ok my question: what makes the difference between Apollo and the main app?

Also, I wanted to say that for supporting the ASPCA so nicely, you have officially made my list of real ones.

iamthatis12 karma

In a sentence: I don't like how the official app is sort of half Android half iOS app, while not being firmly in either camp, which creates an experience for both platforms that's kind of suboptimal, rather than a purposefully built Material Design Reddit app (like Reddit Sync, Relay, Joey, etc.) or an iOS-designed app for Reddit. As an extra sentence, it also tries to do A LOT, and it feels overwhelming at times versus a clean Reddit experience focused on the content that makes Reddit great.

CalypsoTheKitty6 karma

When will Apollo let you swipe through posts? I want to switch ...

iamthatis11 karma

Soon!

gt33m5 karma

Thanks for doing this. So, how do you make money with this app? And what are the costs for supporting it. Is it basically your time or are there license/usage fees?

iamthatis11 karma

No prob! There's a Pro version within the app (as well as another tier above that, Ultra) that unlock extra features that users can optionally pay to unlock and that supports me directly. That's pretty much the only way, but thankfully people are nice in supporting the app when they enjoy my work.

There's licensing yeah, not directly to Reddit since their API is free to use, but Imgur for instance has fees. Most of the true "fees" though come down to the time commitment to build the app, it was thousands of hours for the first beta, and then a crap ton more for where it's at today.

Djaja5 karma

Would you ever consider donating to multiple rural shelters instead?

Many of them do not have the staffing needed, funds for improvements, or facilities to house the animals.

This leads to kill shelters in many states. I wonder if you had any thoughts regarding this?

iamthatis12 karma

Absolutely. (Keep in mind I'm Canadian not American, I don't think we have kill shelters, we "import" a lot of dogs to our rescues from kill shelters in the US.)

So with that I already do donate to other shelters who also do insanely great things, but I'm familiar with the SPCA first-hand and all the good they do. But that's not to say other shelters don't deserve attention either, SPCA are just the ones dearest to my heart since I got my rescues from there and have worked with them.

Djaja3 karma

That is wonderful!

Thank you for answering btw.

I think that while the SPCA does many great things, and has a great mission, the donations would be better served directly donated to shelters. Then they do not have to cover the costs of advertising, staff at the non profit, etc. Idk how one would do it, but it would be better IMO to contact and directly donate monies to these shelters.

iamthatis7 karma

I'm not sure how it works for the American SPCA, but here most of the shelters are indeed owned by the SPCA. Like I physically went into the Halifax SPCA shelter to get both my cats. :)

darkdonnie5 karma

How long did it take you to go from zero to beta version? It still blows my mind that you created this by yourself. It seems like such a huge undertaking.

iamthatis12 karma

Oh boy. I want to say about 2 years, and even then the "beta version" was ROUGH. Calling it an alpha might have been generous.

Sedorner3 karma

There’s a quote from somebody that’s something like “if you’re not embarrassed by your first release, you waited too long”.

Even when Apollo was bad, it was still great.

iamthatis2 karma

Huh, okay I like that quote then. :P Thank you.

AnotherAnonGringo4 karma

If I don't want ultra, but want to send a tip through the app, will that make it into the donations?

iamthatis9 karma

Yes! I won't make a penny from anything in Apollo today haha, all charity.

colossalcow914 karma

Happy birthday Christian! 2 questions for you. One, when are the beta invites from last week’s signups going out? Two, can you point us in the direction of the new Easter egg today?

iamthatis5 karma

Tomorrow or the next day, depending on how busy I get. And nope that would be too easy. :P

jointadventure4 karma

Did you think about founding your own company, get a bunch of awesome people around and take your app (or apps in future 😉) to the next level? You have an awesome talent and like this you could have much more capacity to build awesome apps

iamthatis11 karma

That's been a thought for awhile but that jump sounds so scary, plus I like the lack of pressure just working on my own in my pajamas in my bedroom haha. But it's definitely something with advantages…

VirtualZone94 karma

Hi i just started iosdev, is this app built with uikit or swiftui? love ur app and appreciate this endevaour, sent from apollo ;)

iamthatis7 karma

UIKit for now, but SwiftUI would be fun to try out. It just wasn't available when I started. :D Thanks for using Apollo!

Jimbus884 karma

Are you Canadian? Is that why you chose Nova Scotia?

iamthatis7 karma

Yeah! I'm Nova Scotian actually, I got my cats from that shelter (it's really close to me, like geographically) and I like them a lot.

heycollab3 karma

Hey Christian, huge fan of your work. Pretty amazing that one person can accomplish so much given that the Reddit app provides a ton of great functionality.

What are the biggest pros and cons between paying your bills by working at a large company vs an independent app developer?

How do you manage stress? As an app developer myself, there's always an infinitely long list of TODOs to improve my app, and it's always a challenge to know when to stop working.

Best piece of advice for creating a community that is willing to give feedback?

iamthatis9 karma

Thank you! :)

Big companies have a lot of benefits, nice healthcare plans for instance, I could go for some free massages. Plus the stability, the social aspect of working for others, 401K/RRSP matching, etc. There's a lot.

For the indie side of things you basically give all that up for flexibility. If my girlfriend has the day off and wants to go to the beach, I can drop everything and do it normally, the flexibility is so nice, but it's not without its cost.

Stress… good question, if I am stressed I'm fortunate enough I guess that I can kinda just drop whatever part of Apollo is stressing me out for a bit, as long as it's not like a community thing I've messed up and people are angry at me, but I don't think I've done that thankfully…

I think treating things perpetually as a hobby (even though Apollo is anything but) really does help in lowering the stress if every single feature isn't quite where you want it to be. I don't mean slack ass, but just be relaxed enough that you don't burn yourself out and go backward.

Oh and side hobbies help. I really like woodworking and electric skateboarding.

For communities, just listen to them dammit! Amazing how many people build communities and then forget that basic thing.

Masterjts3 karma

How does this app compare to sync pro?

iamthatis3 karma

Pretty favorably I think, they're both fully featured Reddit apps. It's what a lot of people who move from Android to iOS come from and move to Apollo, and they seem pretty happy. :)

DontPanicJustDance3 karma

I haven’t seen this question asked yet, so hopefully it’s not a duplicate.

What’s your CI process and how do you ensure high software quality just by yourself?

Big fan of Apollo. Great work!

iamthatis4 karma

My CI progress isn't really anything great, some basic unit testing and occasional deploys to GitHub haha. Most of catching regressions is through manual testing and iOS' built in crash reporting/performance reporting tools, as well as a healthy amount of beta testers to help catch anything that falls through the cracks.

And thank you!

novascotiaspca3 karma

Happy Birthday Christian!

How many paws does a cat have?

iamthatis7 karma

4? It's 4 right? Unless you count the back as footsies.

LanceFree3 karma

[deleted]

iamthatis7 karma

I wish I was well enough off that I could give the lifetime proceeds of my career to charity but unfortunately until then today's proceeds will be going to charity. :P

AgentParkman3 karma

/u/iamthatis Is there a reason why there is no Downvote button? And is there any chance you would consider it?

I dont personally feel much use of the down-vote button most times however sometimes people in Comments need to go to hell and with apollo its extra steps to get them there.

Amazing work on the app!

AND THE ICONS ARE LOVELY! Currently rockin Retrowave!

iamthatis7 karma

Huh? Where are you missing a downvote button? Ohh, do you mean the little upvote arrow thing? You can swipe to downvote, or tap with two fingers to downvote as well, I just didn't want to clutter the UI with more buttons.

Glad you like the icons!!

AgentParkman2 karma

Yes precisely! Unfortunately thats only with default settings, my swipes takes me Back or Saves, and tapping Collapses!

I figured cluttering was the reason.

Well if you never know what to do next perhaps you could do so double tapping the Up-vote downvotes instead, see cluterless! Fingers Crossed!

Love the app either way! Thanks for the reply and your work with the Shelter!

iamthatis5 karma

The tricky thing with double-tapping is that then when you single-press the UI has to pause for a second to wait to see if a second press is coming in before it delivers the first one, if that makes sense. (It needs to wait for the potential double press) This means the initial single press is a lot slower to respond and feels laggy. :(

And thank you!

OneLush3 karma

Thanks for being so public with the community, Christian.

How would you recommend someone with no coding/CS background go about developing an app? Are there reasonable consulting services one could work with that wouldn’t cost and arm and a leg? I’ve thought about reaching out to university students looking for experience but wouldn’t know where to begin. I’ve been slowly learning myself but am far from competent enough to make a decent product without help. Keep up the great work!

iamthatis8 karma

No prob. :P

First off I'd say don't think of programming as this hard, complex thing. I remember before I started programming it seemed like rocket scientist shit that only the best of the best could do. It's anything but that. It's really not that complicated, it's just foreign, but once you get used to it it's pretty easy. I think a lot of programmers don't help in perpetuating this idea that it's super advanced stuff.

So that being said, find an area of programming that interests you. iOS apps? Android apps? Websites? Robotics? Security? And read some basic books on them, for Swift and iOS I really like "Hacking with Swift" as a resource. Then just get building, the sooner you get building, the sooner you'll have some great skills. Google questions you have, find resources and tutorials for things you want to do, but keep building.

You definitely don't need to spend much to do this, a CS degree is not at all necessary, it just gives some nice structure, but I learned all my iOS stuff outside of university, university was mostly just theory in my case.

So really, no money needed, just get building. It's free and there's so many resources out there to get you started, and it sounds like you've already started, so just keep at it. Programming is purely a commitment of hours, there's no shortcuts. Just. Keep. At. It.

OneLush3 karma

I really appreciate the thought put into your response and that definitely instills hope within me. Not sure you use LinkedIn but I just sent you a connection.

iamthatis5 karma

Ooo, I log in there a few times a year, I'll accept it the next time I do. :P

kid_charleMANE3 karma

In the Apollo app, if I close the app and reopen it, all of my read posts become unread again. It just started happening this morning. Any thoughts in what the issue could be?

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

iamthatis3 karma

If by close do you mean go to the homescreen, and the come back later, or do you manually force quit it? If the latter that doesn't give the app a chance to sync them.

issaibr3 karma

What are the chances of Apollo for Twitter?

iamthatis13 karma

It's similar to Apollo for Reddit for Android in that I'd love to take a swing at it if I had the time, but Apollo for Reddit on iOS takes up so much of my time to get right that it's incredibly tricky.

Bronson156 karma

Pretty much Tweetbot

iamthatis5 karma

Yeah Tweetbot and Twitterrific are sick, would recommend.

magicentral3 karma

Pro+ultra user here. So, how do I get that icon?

iamthatis4 karma

Make sure you're on the most up to date version of Apollo (should be 1.8.5) then go to Settings tab > App Icon > and it should be at the top. :)

podomunro2 karma

Hi Christian, happy birthday. What it’s like as a developer in Eastern Canada, away from the big tech scene such as Toronto and Vancouver? Is there a community that you’re a part of or meet up with?

iamthatis2 karma

Not really, pretty solitary haha. I worked in Toronto a bit for an internship and I really do miss the tech scene in that city. Same with California. Halifax is pretty quiet.

podomunro1 karma

Fair enough, I’m not surprised. I’m moving to Saint John NB from the UK, and I’m not looking forward to the loss of a local tech community!

iamthatis2 karma

Keep in mind it might be there if you go looking for it, I'm not the best at that, but it was definitely easier to just stumble into in other bigger cities.

TheWeetodd2 karma

What are you growing in your vegetable garden this year?

iamthatis6 karma

I'm in an apartment so not too much room for veggies unfortunately, though that would be super fun. I did have a tomato plant until I figured out they're toxic to cats, gah. I have 3 banana trees though! Those aren't toxic, but they haven't sprouted any bananas yet. :(

madisonbensinger2 karma

Love the cats. Which one of them is more likely to be walking across your keyboard while you are trying to work?

iamthatis8 karma

I don't know how, but I've done a pretty good job of training them not to. I have a decoy blanket beside it that's much more comfortable, so they really don't. But at the same time if I'm at the dining table on my laptop and my girlfriend is too, the black one (Ruby) will parade across her keyboard back and forth then nap on it and stay completely away from mine. Not sure how I pull that off.

drakeisalreadyinuse2 karma

Why did you want to make this app?

iamthatis2 karma

Basically just scratching my own itch, wasn't happy with anything out there and wanted to take a swing at making something I'd be happy with, while secretly hoping others would be too, haha.

matheusdb2 karma

How do you feel working at Apple has helped you build your own product?

iamthatis3 karma

It definitely helped me develop an eye for detail I think, and that helps (and hurts time-wise sometimes) in getting a final product out that really feels nice.

LocalMelt2 karma

What's the best place to grab a meal or beer in your hometown?

iamthatis2 karma

Damn, that's a good question. Personally I'd probably say Salvatore's, it's our one of my favorite local pizza places and it's delicious.

Lava30632 karma

Can you tell your cats I say hi? They look adorable. Also, has the beta invites been sent out yet?

iamthatis2 karma

I will! Thank you. :P Beta invites tomorrow or the next day.

end_amd_abuse2 karma

Were there ever any features you thought would be cool and tried implementing but when you actually tried using it yourself realized it was a bad idea?

iamthatis12 karma

Yeah, I've played around with features before that implement those services that like "undelete" Reddit comments (say a user deletes a comment, they have a copy of it and can show you what it said before they deleted).

Super convenient when you're like "Wait, what did that say?" but when you stop to think (in addition to obviously being against Reddit Terms of Service) I don't want to incorporate a tool that could get someone hurt. People can delete comments or post for legitimate safety reasons, like they accidentally doxxed themselves or posted something they shouldn't have, and I think they have the right to that privacy.

slothbooth2 karma

Hi Christian. Is the app ever coming to android or is it exclusive to iOS? I had not heard of it and it sounds great

iamthatis3 karma

I'd love to bring it to Android, but it'd take a ton of time to rebuild it that I don't have at the moment just being one guy. :(

xxMarijuanaxx1 karma

what’s the best advice you can give someone for success?

iamthatis7 karma

Ahh that's such a hard one. I've always found for me at least the whole "Do something you love" is so apt, because not only do you enjoy your job, but I think the fact you don't hate what you do actually comes across in your work and makes it a lot higher quality.

But I got lucky that that applied to programming for me. What if you love, like, building the world's dopest hammocks? I'm not sure there's a market out for that in the same way there is for programming, which really sucks and is unfair.

So I'd say in general if you're fortunate enough to love something and you can make a career out of it, try to do so. :) Otherwise try to find something close and do the r/FinancialIndependence thing where you're very frugal and retire early then enjoy the thing you truly love. :P

xxMarijuanaxx2 karma

this is a very logical and realistic way to set goals while still having a positive outlook. i needed to hear this and i hope this answer helps others as well!

edit: thanks for answering!!

iamthatis1 karma

Thanks, glad to hear it helped. :)

sneaky-hippo1 karma

How long did it take you to make the Apollo app?

iamthatis3 karma

About 2 years working full time for the initial beta, so maybe like 2K hours? And then even more thousand since then haha.

Nizz3hx1 karma

Hi there, I want to get into software/app development. What tips would you have and what languages are best to learn?

iamthatis2 karma

Great question. If you want to learn both at the same time, React Native is a great way to do that, you can program in a single language/environment and build apps for both Android and iOS concurrently. The result isn't normally quite as good as if you did both platforms separately but you can't beat the time save. React Native uses JavaScript.

If you just wanted to focus on Android you'd be using Java or Kotlin, with iOS you're looking at Swift.

You're not married to whatever you choose, the important part is to just get started. Choose one, read some tutorials, but most importantly get started, just play around with building a super simple app after some tutorials and then progressively challenging yourself more and more. You won't get it at first, just like if you were learning a different spoken language, but it'll click with timi if you stick at it. :)

wademcgillis1 karma

Does anyone ever make jokes about your last name and Beethoven's 5th?

iamthatis1 karma

I can honestly say never. Can you elaborate?

JohnDoe95641 karma

Is there an Apollo version for Android?

iamthatis3 karma

I'd love to one day, but it would take a tone of time that I don't have. :(

PoopPhorPrez1 karma

You have a new customer! And I’m sorry if I missed someone else asking, but why create this app? What made you say “Reddit’s is lacking, I can do better.”?

iamthatis2 karma

YAY! Welcome aboard! And for me it wasn't so much that Reddit was lacking, if anything it was the opposite, Reddit's awesome as a service but I just wasn't a fan of the way anyone was making apps for it. Kinda I guess you're like "dang lasagna is delicious but I don't like how anyone cooks it really, I bet I can make this better".

The main things were nothing quite felt like an iOS app. Everything felt kinda weird and foreign, like design wasn't a priority, or it was an art project, or it was ported from Android and not really following iOS design, etc.

holiday21031 karma

Hey there, this post made me want to go check out the Apollo app. I should probably have registered that you were ex Apple and therefore your platform of choice was iOS? I looked on the Play Store but no joy - any plans to release on Google?

iamthatis3 karma

I'd love to one day, but I currently don't have the time to port it to Android, it'd be a massive undertaking.

its_the_anorak1 karma

Two questions:

  • Tabs or spaces?
  • When/How did you learn to touch type and do you recommend learning how?

iamthatis3 karma

  • Spaces, it's lame but it's what Xcode defaults to and I've never cared to change it.
  • I learned to touch type from playing RuneScape a lot as a teenager, had to be able to see what was going on so I couldn't look down so it came naturally haha. When I was 20 I think I stopped and taught myself properly though (I could touch type previously but only used a few fingers), I took that time to drop QWERTY and switch to Colemak too, and I think the cold turkey change helped a lot with making the adaptation.

A-Night-In-The-Death1 karma

What was your roll at Apple and why did you leave?

iamthatis7 karma

I worked on internal tools on the enterprise app development team, so I built things to try to make things easier for internal Apple employees. I "left" because it was a set term between semesters of university.

Matthewallapple0 karma

Hey just asking is this gonna be a yearly thing?

iamthatis2 karma

I'm hoping!

sneaky-hippo0 karma

Hey, first of all happy birthday and you’re a genius for making this app! I’m a little strapped for cash at the moment, and was wondering if the apollo pro was a subscription or just a one time payment?

iamthatis2 karma

As Bronson said, Pro is one-time, Ultra includes a bit more and has parts that cost me monthly so it's a subscription but has an option to make it one-time if you're so inclined. :)

Shut_The_Muck_Up-6 karma

Why are so many people asking for money when a record number of people are out of work right now?? This is so ridiculous!! You want to raise more money than ever this year when tens of millions of people are struggling to pay rent...

iamthatis4 karma

I help out with those too, and I'm saddened what's happening to people right now, but that doesn't mean the animals should be left to die at the same time, we can help both.