On January 2nd, 2021, I received a call from Apple to discuss the results of my appeal. On that call, an Apple representative stated that Apple now recognizes that the word "amphetamine" and the pill icon are being used "metaphorically", and in a "medical sense."
Thank you to all for sharing this story and helping to keep Amphetamine in the App Store.
Amphetamine is a free app that helps keep your Mac awake. Amphetamine has been on the Mac App Store since 2014 and it’s been downloaded over 432,800 times. It currently has over 1,400 reviews and a 4.8 out of 5.0 rating in the US Mac App Store.
On December 29th, 2020, a representative from Apple contacted and informed me that, after 6 years on the Mac App Store, Amphetamine had spontaneously began violating one of Apple's App Store Guidelines.
Apple then proceeded to threaten to remove Amphetamine from the Mac App Store on January 12th, 2021 if changes to the app were not made. It is my belief that Amphetamine is not in violation of any of Apple's Guidelines. It is also my belief that there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way as me, and want to see Amphetamine.app continue to flourish without a complete re-branding.
Apple has accused Amphetamine of violating the following guideline:
1.4.3 Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store. Apps that encourage minors to consume any of these substances will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies) isn’t allowed."
Apple further specified: “Your app appears to promote inappropriate use of controlled substances. Specifically, your app name and icon include references to controlled substances, pills.”
Spread the word! Let the world know that you want to see Amphetamine.app continue to exist on the Mac App Store. Apple has threatened to remove Amphetamine from the Mac App Store on January 12th, 2021 if Apple's demands are not met.
I have filed an appeal/challenge to the Guidelines violation accusation directly with Apple. I do not personally have much faith in Apple reversing course based on the appeal alone, however. Hopefully, Apple will hear the voices of the Mac community and reconsider their decision.
Should Apple refuse to reverse their decision, and thus remove Amphetamine from the Mac App Store, I will likely do one of the following:
Argument #1: Amphetamine Does Not Promote the Use of Illegal Drugs or Facilitate the Sale of Controlled Substances
Amphetamine does not promote the use of illegal drugs. Not only that, Amphetamine does not promote the recreational use of legal/prescribed drugs. In the United States, amphetamine is prescribed by doctors to adults for narcolepsy and to children for ADHD.
Adderall®, Dexedrine®, Vyvanse®, Evekeo®, Adzenys®, and Desoxyn® are all “brand name” amphetamines. There are other “generic” brands as well. These medications come in the form of a pill. Amphetamine’s icon includes a graphical representation of such a pill. Objectively speaking, there’s no imagery or text in Amphetamine’s icon that suggest the pill should be taken irresponsibly, illegally, or recreationally.
The word “amphetamine” itself is simply a shortened version of the organic compound “alpha-methylphenethylamine.” "Amphetamine” is not a “street-name/slang” for the organic compound, and in no way promotes its irresponsible, illegal, or recreational use. Just like amphetamine (the organic compound) can be legally used to keep humans awake and attentive, Amphetamine (the app) can be legally used to keep your Mac awake.
There is nothing illicit about, or inherently wrong with, the legal use of prescribed amphetamines. The legal use and benefits of prescribed/legally obtained amphetamines cannot be ignored or dismissed simply because there is a potential for illegal abuse of the medication.
Of course, it goes without saying that Amphetamine does not in any way, shape, or form, facilitate the sale of controlled substances.
Argument #2: Unfairly/Inconsistently Applied Guidelines
While Amphetamine (the app) does not promote the use of illegal drugs, there are other apps that do. You can find plenty of other apps on the App Store that either promote irresponsible use of both legal and illegal drugs, or outright glorify the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs. These other apps have not been removed from the App Store or forced to rebrand. Apple is not applying this guideline equally in the Mac or iOS App Stores. Amphetamine has been unfairly targeted.
Coca (macOS): An app that keeps your Mac awake similar to Amphetamine. The coca plant’s leaves are used to make cocaine.
Weed Tycoon (macOS): An app that simulates selling marijuana. Marijuana is not currently legal in all states of the United States. On a Federal level, marijuana remains a controlled substance In fact, the app’s description reads “In a future world where the ban on cannabis has been lifted world wide…”. The app is rated for persons 17 years or older. Most, if not all, states in the US that have legalized recreational marijuana use require the person to be at least 21 years of age. There are countless other apps like this one in the iOS App Store.
Drug Mafia (iOS/iPadOS) & Narcos: Cartel Wars & Strategy (iOS/iPadOS): These apps simulate the experience of manufacturing, distributing, and and/or profiting from illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. While some of the substances that appear in the games have medical applications or a legalized/decriminalized status, these games in particular focus on the illicit trade and sale of these substances.
iBeer (iOS/iPadOS): This app allows you to endlessly “drink” beer from your iOS device. You tip the iOS device like a pint glass and “drink” the beer as many times as you want. This app is rated 17+ despite the legal drinking age in the United States being 21 years old in most localities.
Argument #3: People (and Apple, Inc.) Love Amphetamine.app
Amphetamine has been on the Mac App Store since 2014 (6 years), and existed as an AppleScript application prior to that. Throughout that time, Amphetamine’s icon has included a representation of a pill. The app’s name has always been “Amphetamine.” Never once has Apple objected to these before. Currently, in the US Mac App Store, Amphetamine has 1.4K reviews and a 4.8 out of 5 star rating. Clearly, if people are offended by Amphetamine’s name or icon, they are not the vocal majority.
Apple, Inc. itself has featured Amphetamine in a Mac App Store Story. Surely, there is someone at Apple who is “signing-off” or approving these Stories. How is it that, in all of the interactions I have had with Apple employees (hundreds? dozens?) over the last 6 years with regard to Amphetamine, not a single one of them has been offended by Amphetamine’s name or icon? Why is the name and icon offensive or dangerous today, but not last week?
Amphetamine updates have been rejected by Apple on numerous occasions. One time, Apple’s App Review Team did not like my “Preview” screen shots. Another time, Apple objected to the default behavior when clicking Amphetamine’s menu bar icon, saying it must open the menu by default and not start a session. It is apparent that Apple is indeed paying attention when reviewing apps, and not just blindly approving apps without a real review. Not once has Amphetamine’s name and icon been called into question despite 41 app updates/submissions to Apple for review.
Argument #4: Amphetamine’s Name and Icon Are its Identity
“Amphetamine” is the brand name and identity of one of the apps that I have developed. Amphetamine is widely considered the go-to app for keeping your Mac awake. This is evidenced by its consistent high ranking in the Mac App Store, as well as its inclusion in various major-player tech sites’ “best of…” Mac apps lists. Amphetamine is deployed at businesses and universities large and small across the world. I often have tech support representatives from these businesses and schools email me to ask how to best deploy Amphetamine to their users’ devices.
Once, the CEO of a large US-based healthcare group emailed me directly to request some customizations to Amphetamine for deployment in his organization! When I declined to make the customizations, the CEO offered me a job developing a custom application. Amphetamine is installed by default on Macs deployed at the Wyss Institute at Harvard Medical School. Countless individuals and organizations rely on Amphetamine, and recommend it by name.
Argument #5: Amphetamine’s Popularity Is Organic and User-Driven
As a part-time, small, and independent developer of a 100% free app like Amphetamine, you can understand how I don’t have a marketing budget. I have never purchased ads or otherwise significantly promoted Amphetamine.app on any web-based platform. Amphetamine’s popularity and growth is a direct result of word-of-mouth marketing done by the very people Apple, Inc. claims that Amphetamine.app is harming.
Amphetamine is a very popular app, and is downloaded hundred to thousands of times every day. Since 2014, Amphetamine.app has been downloaded over 432,800 times.
Thank you again for helping save Amphetamine. It's people like you who made Amphetamine the app it is today. Amphetamine's popularity happened organically. I have never really done any advertising or marketing for Amphetamine beyond word-of-mouth, and the occasional post on Reddit or Twitter.
If you have any questions, you can find me on Twitter. ❤️