Sticker App 'Phoneys' Nixed by Apple for Mimicking Messages Chat Bubble Design

Over the past week, a sticker pack that mimics the design of the iconic bubbles in the Messages app has rocketed to the top of the Messages App Store charts, but its popularity will be short-lived as Apple is going to pull it from the App Store.

Phoneys, currently the number two paid app in the Messages App Store in the United States, features chat bubble stickers that you can place over real messages, making it look like friends and family have said humorous things they didn't actually say. Examples include "You're my hero," "The sports team I pull for sucks," and "My political views are totally wrong."

phoneys
Given the popularity of Phoneys, it has, unsurprisingly, attracted Apple's attention, and the Cupertino company has taken issue with the app. In a phone call, an Apple employee told Phoneys developer Adam Howell that his sticker pack can't use the San Francisco font and it can't emulate the look of Messages chat bubbles. Furthermore, Apple said "prank" apps are not allowed in the App Store.

Apple's lawyers weren't happy that Phoneys got through the review process. The stickers couldn't be blue or green, they couldn't use San Francisco as the typeface, and the app could no longer be marketed as a "prank" app, because Apple doesn't approve prank apps (even though I myself had never used the word "prank" when marketing Phoneys, others did, and I certainly understood where he was coming from).

Apple is not pulling the app from the App Store immediately, but has given Howell a week to change the look of the app so that the text bubbles no longer resemble Messages chat bubbles. He's been asked to change them to "comic book cartoon bubbles," and if that doesn't happen, Phoneys will be removed by Apple.

Howell has not yet decided whether he'll leave the app as is for the people who already purchased it or if he'll update it with a new look as instructed by Apple so that he can continue providing updates and new content going forward.

Phoneys continues to be available from the App Store in its current incarnation for $0.99 [Direct Link], but potential buyers should know that it's either never going to see another update or it'll be updated to look significantly different.

Top Rated Comments

djcerla Avatar
83 months ago
That's the right thing.

This app could, and would, end up used very maliciously.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
reden Avatar
83 months ago
Apple: Lets allow people to have fun with our Messages app! Okay, not that much fun.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nunyabinez Avatar
83 months ago
Is #apple really taking ownership of a shape and a color?
For use on THEIR platform. Why yes they are and can.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
31 Flavas Avatar
83 months ago
Is #apple really taking ownership of a shape and a color?
Because there is no way this app could possibly cause problems. It clearly must be because Apple is defending their invention of the color blue and green and the chat bubble shape.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
83 months ago
Is #apple really taking ownership of a shape and a color?
While it's entertaining to think about, that's not the point, is it? This is about degrading the user experience through deceptive "stickers". Makes perfect sense why Apple would disapprove of that, and you would, too, if you were in Apple's shoes.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pwhitehead Avatar
83 months ago
Is #apple really taking ownership of a shape and a color?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off) [Updated]

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
mac studio pink

Apple May Not Launch Updated Mac Studio With M2 Ultra Chip Due to Similarity With Upcoming Mac Pro

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:06 am PST by
A new version of the Mac Studio with the "M2 Ultra" chip is unlikely to arrive in the near future, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that since the upcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is "very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio," Apple may wait until the release of M3- or M4-series chips to update the machine, or...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
top stories 4feb2023

Top Stories: New HomePod Launches, iOS 16.3.1 Coming Soon, and More

Saturday February 4, 2023 6:00 am PST by
This week saw the launch of the final product from Apple's January hardware announcements, with the second-generation HomePod making its way into customers' hands. Other news and rumors this week included signs of an interim iOS 16.3.1 bug fix update in the works as we await a fresh round of beta testing for a more significant iOS 16.4 update, a report on the potential dangers of using...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's Second-Generation HomePod

Friday February 3, 2023 1:28 pm PST by
Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the second-generation HomePod looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh...