Apple announced on Wednesday
that it will allow reader apps to include a single in-app link to their own websites allowing users to sign-up and manage their accounts. Apple has not specifically mentioned whether this will include allowing subscribers to make payments through that website which would bypass Apple's in-app payment system from which it collects up to 30% of revenue. The changes won't start until early next year.
While Apple did not specifically mention allowing developers to link to alternative payment options, the company did say that it "will also help developers of reader apps protect users when they link them to an external website to make purchases." That comment would seem to indicate that developers will be able to avoid paying Apple's cut.
In a statement published on its website, Apple said, "To ensure a safe and seamless user experience, the App Store’s guidelines require developers to sell digital services and subscriptions using Apple’s in-app payment system. Because developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase, Apple agreed with the JFTC to let developers of these apps share a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their accounts."
Apple will allow "reader" apps to have an in-app link to their own websites where subscribers can manage their accounts
The company stated that the changes end an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission and will apply worldwide to"reader apps available through Apple’s App Store. Reader apps are those that provide content that was previously purchased or content available from an app that users pay for on a recurring basis such as music, video, digital magazines, newspapers, books, and audio.
U.S. lawmakers are trying to make the Open App Markets App the law
says that before the change takes effect in 2022, the company will update its review process and company guidelines to make sure users of reader apps have a "safe experience" on the App Store. While developers of gaming apps are not affected by Apple's announcement, Epic Games last year tried to promote its own in-app payment platform for its hit Fortnite game. That led Apple to kick the game out of the App Store. Epic brought a suit against Apple and a U.S. judge will eventually make a ruling.
Despite the new rules, companies like Spotify and Netflix, which have both stopped accepting new subscriptions from the App Store to avoid the so-called "Apple Tax," still will not be able to sign up new subscribers directly from their iOS apps without paying Apple. Netflix refused to leave a comment to The Wall Street Journal
while Spotify said that it would have to evaluate the changes. The music streamer added that the new guidelines would not fix all of the problems it has with Apple.
Apple has been making some changes to the App Store to deflect the heat on it from global lawmakers
The Japanese Fair Trade Commission said in response to the news that the change announced by Apple "would eliminate the suspected violation of the Antimonopoly Act and decided to close the investigation on this case after confirming that the measure has been actually taken." Apple has been trying to deflect some of the heat placed on the App Store and the "Apple Tax" by U.S. lawmakers who have proposed bills in the house aimed at forcing changes to the App Store and the Google Play Store.
Phil Schiller, the Apple Fellow who is in charge of the App Store said on Wednesday, "Trust on the App Store is everything to us. The focus of the App Store is always to create a safe and secure experience for users, while helping them find and use great apps on the devices they love. We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we’ve done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust."