App Store RED notification 002

Apple on Monday tapped its Push Notifications mechanism to remind users that they can donate money to (RED) charity by purchasing (RED)-branded iPhone and iPad apps.

The company has also created a donation page in the App Store (the first banner below ‘Games for (RED)’ section) for simple, convenient and frictionless donations of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or $200.

A dedicated donation webpage is available at, but it requires you to use a web browser and type in your credit card information, as opposed to the simplicity of iTunes billing.

Reminding folks to “get great apps and help (RED) fight AIDS” via a push alert did not sit well with some nit-picky watchers. I’m talking about Instapaper and Tumblr creator Marco Arment whose blog post insists Apple broke its own rule about using Push Notifications for promotions.

Some people piggy-backed on Marco’s blog post and tweeted out their disdain because the App Store sent them the (RED) notification, twice.

“This is clearly a promotion, will annoy thousands or millions of people and is in direct violation of the least-enforced rule in the App Store,” Arment wrote explaining his first-world problem with Apple’s promo alert.

Claiming Apple broke its own rule is something of an exaggeration. Who’s to say that App Store rules  must apply to Apple? Just because a rule exist for third-party apps doesn’t mean Apple itself should abide to it.


To be fair, Apple’s App Store rules indeed state that “apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions or direct marketing of any kind.”

A rule is a rule, but enforcing this particular clause is easier said than done: imagine policing every single push alert that apps send out!

Instead of criticizing Apple, we should commend the company for doing the right thing because this is about saving lives, not “promotional” alerts per se.

As MacStories editor Federico Viticci politely put it, Apple’s (RED) Push Notification should be considered an exception because it’s for a good cause. For someone who has survived cancer and fought it publicly, Viticci is 100 percent right.

Apple World AIDS Day 2013 (App Store donation page)

The argument goes the other way, too. Imagine if every good cause sent you a notification: you’d have push alerts for Tahiti relief, breast cancer, Alzheimer, leukemia and what have you.

In a perfect world, this would not exist as a topic of discussion. Since we’re not living in a perfect world, I’m open to learning about your position on the matter.

Is Apple entitled to break its own rule in case like this? And are we ethically entitled to whine about a single notification reminding us to help fight this horrible disease which, mind you, has claimed more than 36 million lives?

What was Apple supposed to do? Adhere to its rules and not send the alert just because someone somewhere may deem it spammy? Since when have we become a society that disses corporations no matter what, even when they’re doing what’s right as Apple clearly did in this particular instance?

Apple Store (World AIDS Day)

In my view, this is much ado about nothing. Whining about the App Store’s (RED) notification is missing the point, even more so given that virtually every freemium iOS game under the Sun sends tons of promotional alerts to push us into spending cash on virtual items.

It’s also turning a blind eye to the fact that Apple’s been a key partner of PROJECT(RED) initiative by U2’s Bono to help end the spread of AIDS in Africa, with Apple’s contributions topping $70 million to this date.

In that regard, sending a gentle reminder to download (RED) apps certainly can’t be harmful and most certainly shouldn’t be considered a terrible violation of Apple’s own rule because today is not just any day, it’s World AIDS Day.

Please read, if you will, Marco’s blog post in its entirety for a better understanding and then come back here to comment.

  • Cody

    Tim Cook is taking Apple downhill.

    • Maxim∑

      sending one push notification is considered “spamming” good to know

      • blu

        So what about 2, or 3, or 4? Everything starts with 1.

    • iBanks

      LOL!!! That’s all I can do at this one.

    • Meh

      Your taking Apple downhill with your negativity!

    • Rodney Coleman

      I got AIDS from this post

    • John

      Opening iOS is taking Apple downhill.
      Sure, right, whatever.


  • arvindb02

    Did this require a post this long.

    • iBanks

      Crazy part, I got that notification way earlier today. Was going to screenshot it and send it in to iDB, but as of lately, any tips I send doesn’t get acknodged but hours later a post come about.

      • Maxim∑

        tips usually need to be unique. If every single iOS user got this notification then obviously they wouldn’t reply back… Thats like me saying “iOS 8.2 came out” when everyone just got the ota

      • iBanks

        Most of you all don’t even know an OTA is out until iDB posts it, so next time use a better example. But as I said, a tip can be submitted now and 5 hours later a post may come about. I know of two for a fact that this has happened on, sent it to 9to5 and they post it. So….

      • Maxim∑

        Last time I checked this was a notification not a background OTA so your reply kind of backfired, since people noticed this one right away as opposed to the OTA

      • iBanks

        Not exactly. As you can see in the screenshot of the notification, it’s time shows 7:04, my notification had come in right before I got to work which was 11:00am. Usually tipsters are acknowledged in the post, here you do not see that. Therefore, it’s obvious either a tip wasn’t submitted or either they didn’t get shouted out. So my point still stands, either the tip goes unoticed or the tipster wasn’t acknowledged.

      • Elias Hardt

        Time zones. Think.

      • GuyWithTheThings

        Exactly what I was gonna say.

      • iBanks

        Then maybe you should think… There are 3 members of the iDB team, one of which is on a different time zone than me. Your response…. Invalid.

      • Rom3

        lol iBanks is right I’ve sent in tips to iDB and I’ve recieved no acknowledgement on numerous occasions but it’s all for the good of everyone just wish they shouted out the readers specifically who gave a tip.

    • Tommy

      Well its Christian we’re talking about so of course, yeah.
      Anyone who says one bad word about Apple will be returned with a thousand from Christian, that one die-hard Apple fan IDB writer. He’s like the Stan dude from that Eminem song lol. I love all the other bloggers of iDB but Christian? just NO.

  • BoardDWorld

    Tim Cook to the world “I’m Gay”… & I can do anything… REALLY

    I’ll leave your minds to ponder…

  • Guest

    This is worth mentioning but not the updated apple tv UI? (however small it is)

  • Steve would have never done that.

    • Cody

      Steve would have never released a cartoonish iOS, he wouldn’t have released the iPhone 5c, he wouldn’t have fired Scott Forestall and probably the iPhone wouldnt look like an iPod Touch made an iPhone.

      • brandon

        Did you ask him if he would? Yeah I didn’t think so. Don’t put actions on Steve that you have no clue whether he would have or would not.

      • Cody

        Common sense, iOS 6 and before is what Steve liked. Scott was an important person for him and Apple, as important as how Jonny Ive has been. Probably the iPad mini would have never been released either.

      • John

        If Steve was still around, you’re probably right.
        Scott would have stayed.

        If Scott was still around, Maps would still be muck.

      • brandon

        Did you not read the official bio where it talks about how Steve had “Ok’ed” the designs for the next few years? Steve knew very well what iOS and iPhone was going to look like in 3, 5, even 10 yrs from now.

      • Yash Gorana

        Umm…nobody fired no one. BTW, Steve asked apology from Forstall. He said no and left the company. Get your facts straight.

      • Nathan

        I miss Scott Forstall D:

    • BoardDWorld

      Most CEO’s wouldn’t, I’m all in for supporting the majority that are poo pushers and those that can’t stick to porn and have to bounce like rabbits, I feel very sad for the select few that get it because of a partner or friend doing either of the later. But just because Tim’s one of them it doesn’t mean that makes Apple.

  • Phil Randle

    Some people complain too god damn much, It was ONE push notification, I saw it, but I also donated, so obviously I wasn’t in the small pile of complainers, It takes 2 seconds to delete the notification from the notification centre.

    While the process got me to donate, Apple has over 500 Million customers, and they are a supporter of product (RED), therefore if that notification manages to get even a fraction of those people to donate for the product (RED) fund then thats a fair chunk of money raised, along with all the proceeds they’ll made in stores, so I say good on them.

  • Jesse

    All over one notification.

  • Dayvid Falcones

    “apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions or direct marketing of any kind.”

    wait is this real life because I feel like every push notification from a third party app I get is a promotion – aka every single “free to play pay to win” game

  • Mr.Coolfreak

    People don’t care about freemium games sending them annoying notifications every hour but get annoyed when Apple sent one notification for a good cause?

  • If you don’t like their methods, don’t buy and use their stuff. Simple as that. Otherwise, they can do whatever the hell they want LOL

  • George

    Who gives a shit, its for AIDS.

  • James G

    Tap X, then Clear, move on with your day.

  • Sleaka J

    The government doesn’t stick to its own laws either.

  • @dongiuj

    Dictatorship at its finest. What’s good enough for one person is good enough for everybody else.

  • Patrick

    I just appreciate how well and unbiased the article is written. iDB is probably one of my favorite news sources.

  • Christian, you’re trying too much to keep yourself off of Apple’s blacklist (bit ly/1vzyqKD)…

  • Ian Leon

    What makes project red more special than the other organizations that fight other diseases? Why does apple support it so publicly? Why does it get its own color? Because they have turned a fight against a disease into a marketing stunt that’s why. The same way that some really smart person turned the Friday after thanksgiving into a huge sale day where people think they’re saving money. Apple says that they’ll give part of the money to red in hopes that people buy more products. Its a marketing stunt, they could’ve chosen the fight against any other disease, picked any other color, etc… the real reason was money. So yeah that push was wrong. They broke a rule.

  • Ian Leon

    Anyway the push was too much. I already knew that this whole thing was going on. It’s not necessary.

  • Alvin

    Tim Cook is taking Apple downhill? That has to be one of the most ludicrous things I have read, laughed and almost didn’t bother to comment on, but I simple cannot stroll by this troglodyte mindset! None of us have any idea what Steve left for Tim to do. Be sure that he didn’t just pass away with no ground laid out and you can also be sure that Tim Cook didn’t get his position by not being an almost and fundamental clone. To bring up his sexual preference or gender just tell me you are one of those people from the International Community of “Dumbfuckistan”! The iPhone does not look or feel like an iPod and yes I own both. I pray to God whoever made these comments still lives in ther mother’s basement and is trying to get into a good school. BTW, check Apple’s Stock. This after all of the Tea-Bagging clump heads made predictions a Apple was going to implode. NOPE! It’s Samsung’s CEO taking pay cuts and the mobile division laying off thousands. This was a good laugh. I donated cash me bought and updated some of my apps for this cause. Some of these comments are borderline Republicant Whitewash! WAKE UP

  • U Kn0w What 1t 1s

    I think this is something to complain about because it shows you how Big money doesn’t have to follow the rules in today’s society. RED doesn’t even give 10% of what it earns to AIDS research. It’s just a social manipulation to make people donate. Why should “WE”, the middle class donate, when we don’t really make shit (in comparison to someone like Tim Cook or Jony Ive). How much is Apple donating? How much are any of the stars who are promoting RED donating? My guess is absolutely nothing… RED is paying them, not the other way around.


    Humm. Like any amount of many can stop those African negros from doing it right in front of all the wild african tigers.

  • iNeedANameHere

    Tap clear, move on. It’s really not something people should throw a fit over.

  • Tom

    Really??? This was meant to help people around the world who are sick!!! I don’t think that one push notification could really annoy someone…. Marco Arment is just stupid…

  • Elias Hardt

    So Apple sends out a notification once to cure AIDS, and everyone panics. But Modern Combat sends you a notification DAILY to PLAY THEIR GAME and no one bats an eye.

    • jack

      this time it was sent by Apple, which if I’m not mistaken it is their first time through the appstore

  • n0ahcruz3

    In other news! We have another defect regarding iphone 6, the front facing camera prone to shifting revealing a crescent strip. The CrescentGate! Lol i thought i was the only one who noticed this issue. What the eff apple?

  • jack

    is a simple and single notification worth a 659-word article?

    • mahe

      did you really count the words?

      • jack

        Of course not cretin

  • singhay559

    Even if there’s a cure to aids they wouldn’t release it. It would stop the ongoing scams

  • E Double

    This guy is just seeking publicity. How many people knew who he was before the article? How many will care after it has dissipated? If you don’t like Apple’s practices then protest by taking your spending power elsewhere. Watch how many care and follow suit.