Apple Updates App Store Rules to Let Developers Inform of Other Payment Methods

According to TechCrunch, Apple on Friday updated its App Store Guidelines to add three new clauses.

The first explicitly states developers are allowed to directly approach customers (outside of apps) and inform them about alternative methods of payment that would bypass Apple’s 30% App Store commission.

The second clause permits developers to ask app users for information like name and email, provided that the request is optional for the user and that functionality or features are not contingent on users fulfilling the request. The third guideline is unrelated, and pertains to a new App Store feature rolling out next week — in-app events.

At the same time, Apple did away with App Store Guideline 3.1.3, which prohibited developers from using information obtained from their apps to directly contact users and direct them to alternative payment methods.

The changes are the result of a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple by a band of U.S.-based developers in 2019, and settled earlier this year. As part of the settlement agreement, Apple would have to give developers the freedom to contact users and inform them of ways to pay for purchases outside of their iOS app and the App Store, among other things.

“As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Stores,” said Apple after the settlement.

Apple has caught quite a lot of flak in recent times for its hefty App Store commissions and questionable business practices, both from regulatory bodies and the public. And, not to mention, app developers.

Apple had previously taken some steps to remedy the situation, like reducing App Store commissions from 30% to 15% for developers earning less than $1 million USD per year, but none will be as effective as letting developers employ alternative payment channels.

Letting developers talk to users about alternative payment methods is a good start, but it isn’t quite as big a win as what the judge’s ruling in the recent Apple vs. Epic Games trial will require the iPhone maker to do.

While U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling last month absolved Apple of antitrust allegations, it also required the tech giant to make a massive change to its App Store policies: let Epic Games, and other developers, not only tell users about alternative payment solutions inside apps, but also link out to their own transaction systems.

The Apple vs. Epic Games case is currently under appeal, and Apple is doing its best to delay having to make the mandated changes.