Apple and Google face intense scrutiny and even lawsuits over the handling of their respective app stores. Only recently, a replacement law in South Korea will force the two giants to open their stores to other payment systems. Potentially facing an identical loss in Japan, Apple has now announced that it’ll be updating its App Store policy, allowing developers to supply in-app links to check-in and manage accounts outside the app, but just for a selected class of apps.
Traditionally, Apple forces developers and users to try everything inside the app itself, from signing up to managing accounts to purchasing content. While many services have their account management systems on their websites, they aren’t allowed to link to those if they need their app to be accepted into the App Store. This, of course, works in Apple’s favor since it practically means Apple will always get that 30% cut, especially for subscriptions like Netflix that need an upfront payment.
To appease the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple announced a change that will apply globally to all or any app developers. Starting early 2022, Apple will allow certain apps to possess an in-app link to an external website to check-in and manage their accounts.
The slight catch to the present beneficial change is that it only applies to “reader” apps, which permit users access already purchased newspapers, books, music, or video. That list doesn’t include games, which is perhaps one of the foremost profitable classes of apps in mobile today. The reasoning is that these apps don’t offer in-app purchases, so Apple is more willing to allow them to off the hook. Another smaller catch is that developers can only put one in-app link to avoid spamming users with obvious redirects to the services’ websites.
This announcement comes on the heels of another App Store about-face announced last week. Apple will be allowing developers to tell users that they need alternative payment options outside the App Store, provided they only advertise that fact through emails. These are just the newest concessions that Apple seems to be willing to form to avoid heftier fines and larger changes should it lose ongoing lawsuits across the planet.