A new app called Struck was founded by former Apple engineers and is said to be the tinder for the co-star audience. In other words, it's an astrological matchmaker. However, it took almost 10 attempts over several months for the startup to approve its app from Apple for inclusion in the App Store. In almost every rejection, app reviewers marked the app as "spam", either due to the use of astrology or simply because it was designed for online dating.
Apple has consistently cited section 4.3 of its App Store review policy in most of Struck's denials, except for two that were unrelated to the purpose of the app. (Once it was rejected for using a broken API. Another rejection was text that needed to be corrected. It still referred to as "beta".)
The 4.3 guideline is used by Apple to keep the App Store free of clutter and spam. In spirit, the policy makes sense because it gives Apple permission to make more subjective calls through low-quality apps.
Today's guideline states that developers should “avoid focusing on an already saturated category” and remind developers that the app store already has “enough fart, burp, flashlight, fortune telling, dating – and Kama Sutra apps, etc. ”
In the document, Apple promises to reject anything that "doesn't provide a high quality experience."
This policy was also updated in March to further raise the bar for dating apps, including tougher rules for divination apps.
Beaten, was unfortunately in the crosshairs of this new enforcement. While the app may use astrology in a matchmaking process, its overall design and business model is nowhere near that of a dodgy "fortune telling" app.
In fact, Struck hasn't even implemented its monetization model, which may include subscriptions and a la carte features at a later date.
Rather, Struck was carefully and carefully designed to offer an alternative to market leaders like Tinder. The app was developed by a team of mostly women, including two colored people and an LGBTQ + team member. It's everything mainstream dating apps aren't.
Struck, for example, doesn't turn online dating into a hot-or-not style game. It first recommends matches to understand the detailed birth charts and aspects of users. But you don't really have to believe in astrology to enjoy this experience. You can only use the app for fun if you are open-minded, it says on the company's website. "Skeptics welcome," it advertises.
And while Tinder and others tend to use psychological tricks to addict their apps, Struck aims to slow things down so that users can focus on romance and conversations again. In Struck, there are no endless catalogs of headshots to swipe at. Instead, you are sent no more than four matches a day, and you can only send one of the four messages.
The overall goal of the app is to give users time to analyze the priorities and values of their games, not just how they appear on photos.
If anything, this is exactly the kind of unique, well-designed app the App Store should provide, not the type it should ban.
"We have an Apple background. We have a technical background. We really insisted on having a good, high quality user interface and user experience, ”said Rachel Lo, co-founder and CEO of Struck. “It was a big focus for us in our beta tests. We honestly didn't expect a pushback when we submitted it to the App Store, ”she says.
But Apple pushed back. After Struck submitted the app for the first time in May, he went through around nine rejection rounds, in which reviewers continued to claim that it was spam just because it was an astrology-based dating application. The team would then pull out astrological functions, hoping to approve the app … with no luck. Finally, one reviewer said Struck was rejected as a dating app.
"I remember thinking that we had to end this project. There's no real way through," says Lo. The Struck team ultimately posted information on their struggles and how they rejected them on their Instagram page Apple thought it was unfair given the quality of the app, and as Lo points out, the rejection was tinged with a touch of sexism.
"Obviously, astrology is a strongly female-dominated category," she says. "I'm having trouble with the burp, farts, and divination apps policy. I've fussed over this phrase and how insulting it is to people in most parts of the world who actually watch astrology."
Despite the founders' connections within the technology industry, Struck was not approved due to her ex-Apple status and her relationships with journalists who would continue to represent her case.
After several supporters left comments on Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson's Instagram, where she posted through WWDC, the app suddenly got the green light for unknown reasons. It is unclear whether the Instagram posts made a difference. Even the app reviewer was unable to explain why the app was approved now upon request.
The whole debacle has angered the founders of how Apple operates its app store today, and sees them in support of the government's anti-trust investigations into Apple's business, which could lead to new regulations.
“We didn't have a course of action. And it felt really, really wrong that this huge company was basically crushing small developers, says Lo. "I don't know what will become of our app. We hope it will succeed and we hope we can build a good, diverse business out of it," she continues. "But the point was that we weren't even able to distribute our app that we had been building for nine months."
Although Apple turns up the nose with astrology apps, it doesn't seem that you need to take astrology to heart to have fun with apps like Struck or those that inspired it, such as Co-Star. Not so obsessed with predicting your future, these newer Zodiac apps provide a framework to examine your emotions, your place in the world, and your interpersonal relationships. This led Co-Star to complete a $ 5 million launch round in 2019. This was one of the many astrology apps that investors have been following in the past year when consumer spending among the top 10 in this area increased 65% over 2018.
Ultimately, Struck wants to give the market something different than Tinder, and that has value.
"We want to challenge heterosexual men because it's a traditionally feminine-looking app," says Lo. "It's 2020 for us. It's shocking for us that every dating app looks like a slot machine. We want to do something that has a voice and makes women feel comfortable. And I think that our division the user between the genders has proven this. "
Struck is live on the App Store today – who knows how long.
It is initially aimed at users in the Bay Area and LA and will arrive in New York on Friday. Based on user feedback, it is slowly being launched in more markets where it sees demand.