June 14, 2024

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Apples App Store Rule Change: U.S. Developers Can Now Link to Outside Websites for In-App Purchases

3 min read
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Apple’s App Store Rule Change: U.S. Developers Now Allowed to Link to Outside Websites for In-App Purchases

Apple recently made a significant policy shift that is set to impact the in-app purchasing landscape for U.S. developers. The company has revised its guidelines to permit U.S. developers to include links to external websites for in-app purchases specifically in iOS and iPadOS apps distributed through the U.S. app stores. This decision follows the rejection of an appeal by the United States Supreme Court, which sought a review of a previous ruling compelling Apple to allow developers to guide customers to alternative payment methods. Despite this concession, Apple will continue to enforce strict control over payments, maintaining specific regulations and requirements for developers seeking to utilize this new allowance.

Navigating the New Rules: What U.S. Developers Need to Know

Developers keen on leveraging this change must secure approval from Apple prior to incorporating external links for in-app purchases. Additionally, there are stipulations on the placement and frequency of the links, as well as limitations on how developers can notify users of alternative payment methods. Notably, developers are only permitted to display links in a single, dedicated location within the app and are prohibited from using in-app pop-ups or referencing external payments in their App Store listing. Despite allowing developers to route transactions outside of the App Store, Apple mandates that developers pay a commission for purchases made through external methods. The commission rate stands at 12% for developers enrolled in the small business program, and 27% for larger developers.

Challenges and Criticisms

While this rule change represents a notable shift in Apple’s policies, it is not without its challenges and criticisms. The company contends that enforcing these terms may be difficult and even impossible in some cases. However, developers are obligated to submit monthly reports, regardless of transaction processing, with Apple reserving the right to conduct audits. The adjustments come in the wake of ongoing legal disputes, including the Epic v. Apple trial, where Apple’s App Store regulations have been a focal point of contention. Despite these changes, high-profile developers such as Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney have criticized Apple’s latest policy adjustments, indicating that legal challenges may ensue.

Key Points:

– Apple has updated its guidelines to allow U.S. developers to include links to external websites for in-app purchases in iOS and iPadOS apps distributed through the U.S. app stores.
– Developers must secure Apple’s approval and adhere to specific placement and notification regulations for the links.
– Apple mandates developers to pay a commission for purchases made through external methods, with rates set at 12% for small business program participants and 27% for larger developers.
– Despite these changes, criticisms from high-profile developers highlight continued tensions surrounding Apple’s App Store regulations.

Apple’s decision to relax its rules marks a significant shift and potentially a watershed moment in the ongoing dialogue surrounding app store policies. As the industry continues to evolve, the implications of this decision will undoubtedly ripple across the developer community and beyond.

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