Apple to Allow Some Apps Link to External Payments, Bypassing Commissions

Apple announced on Friday evening its plans to loosen App Store payment rules, when it comes to media apps, or ‘reader’ apps.

The decision comes as part of a settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission’s investigation into the App Store. Apple says the changes will apply to Japan and globally.

Apple says it will allow developers of ‘reader’ apps, to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account. Before, Apple did not allow these ‘reader’ apps to direct users to an external website to set up payments, as that would bypass the App Store’s 15-30% commission.

Reader apps offer previously purchased content or subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video, and includes the likes of Netflix and Spotify, for example.

“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 account,” explained the iPhone maker on Friday evening.

Apple says the changes will kick into effect in “early 2022”, but before then the company will update its developer guidelines.

“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,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow who oversees the App Store, in a statement.

“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,” added Schiller.

Last week, Apple settled a class-action antitrust lawsuit with developers for $100 million USD, while also made some concessions on the App Store related to commissions, in-app purchases, search results and more.

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