Important changes for Android users, due to restrictions from Google

In October Google announced app developers that they will restrict the use of SMS and Call Log permissions (see here and here). This change in Google’s policy is important and has an impact on our Android app because Appointfix was using the SMS permission to provide fully automated reminders sent through your phone. And the Call Log permission was also used to display the app’s icon on the call screen.

We applied for an exception to these new restrictions, however we received an answer from Google on January 7 that they rejected our request. They considered automatic reminders as being “unnecessary for the core functionality of your app.” We don’t agree…but we weren’t offered an appeal.

We really fought to be able to still offer automatic reminders through your device, unfortunately without success. We need to obey Google’s rules, otherwise they will remove the app from Google Play. So with this last update (version 3.7, now available on Google Play), some changes came.

Change no.1) Reminders aren’t fully automated anymore under the Basic and Premium plans, where we use your device to send the messages. One tap will be required for each reminder to be sent. We’ll send you a push notification each time you need to tap for sending an SMS reminder, or you can go to Menu → Reminders each morning and send the reminders for the whole day. We will still prefill each message with customized information for each appointment, you’ll just need to tap the Send button. So it shouldn’t take more than 15-20 seconds to send all reminders for one day. Watch the video below to see how it works and how easy it is.

An alternative: We know you love the automated reminders. So for those of you that still want to have them fully automated, we have prepared a special offer for our Ultimate plan.

Under the Ultimate plan, reminders are sent via cloud using our SMS system. So Google’s restrictions don’t apply here, as we’re not using your device and Android’s functionality to send the messages. 

Until February 28th, you will be able to get Ultimate with a 50% discount ($19.99 US$9.99/month) for the first 12 months. So basically you can get the Ultimate plan at the same price as Premium. The offer can be accessed by going in the app to Menu > Upgrade account.

Please take your time to evaluate how reminders work after this update and then decide if you’ll stay with your current plan or upgrade to Ultimate. We don’t necessarily want you to upgrade, all we’re trying to do is provide you alternatives to have the best experience. If you’re not familiar with the Ultimate plan, please read through the information below.

Change no.2) The Ultimate plan gets more messages and lower prices for extra SMS packs.

With this update we’re also increasing the number of messages included monthly in Ultimate from 300 to 500 and we’re reducing the price of extra SMS packs by 60%.

Under the Ultimate plan, reminders are sent via cloud using our SMS system and are fully automated. It doesn’t matter on which device you’re using the app, we make sure your appointment reminders are always sent out.

As an Ultimate subscriber, you get 500 messages FREE each month. If you have used them up, you can simply buy extra messages, from 50 ($4.99 US$1.99) up to 500 ($34,99 US$14.99). Unused extra messages are carried over to the next usage cycle, after which they will expire.

Under the Ultimate plan, the text messages will come from a generic number (e.g. in US: 18885022560), clients can reply and the messages will be redirected to your mobile number (Please make sure have a mobile phone number set in Menu > Settings > User account > Edit). Depending on the length of the reply, a certain number of messages will be consumed out of your monthly message quota. Client replies are currently available in: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Romania, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Sweden, and South Africa.

Please include your business phone number in the reminder message template and instruct clients to use that number when they want to contact you. Use something like this: If anything, please call or text at “add your number”. You can edit your reminder message template by going to Menu > Settings > Reminders > Reminder message template.

If they still reply to our generic number, we’ll forward the message to you. However if they call on our generic number, they won’t be able to get to you.

You can check the status of your reminders anytime by going to Menu > Reminders. Since the messages are sent via cloud and not using your device, you won’t be able to view anymore the sent reminders in your phone’s Messages app.

Change no.3) The incall app icon and card has been removed. Since we can’t use the Call Log permission anymore, we are forced to kill this feature. What you can do instead is to make sure Appointfix is placed on your phone’s Home screen. So when someone calls and you tap the Home button, you’ll then be able to quickly open Appointfix.

We know these changes come as bad news for our Android users, unfortunately we had no choice but to implement them. Our iOS app works like this since the beginning and we were actually hoping that one day Apple will allow us to do automated reminders on the iPhone. Instead of that happening though, Google decided to take the same road as Apple, becoming stricter and blocking us and all other developers from sending fully automated SMS.

Good things are coming too. I’d like to end this blogpost by giving you a short preview of the new features we’ll be adding in 2019:

  • Multiple templates for reminders – you’ll be able to use different messages before and after the appointment
  • Online booking – you’ll be able to let your clients book their appointments through a webpage or through your Facebook page
  • Financial reports – you’ll be able to see your daily, weekly or monthly income
  • Location/Address field – you’ll be able to add the address where the appointment takes place
  • Staff management – you’ll be able to add multiple staff members on the calendar

We’re really counting on your support and understanding in the midst of all these changes. Thank you for using Appointfix!

Flavius is Co-founder & CMO of Appointfix, a mobile app allowing professionals and small businesses to easily schedule appointments and reduce client no-shows using automated SMS reminders. Feel free to drop him an email at flavius@appointfix.com.