Sunday , July 14, 2024

Apple App Store Will Enable Outside Payments, With Stipulations

Apple Inc. will let developers enable purchases outside of its App Store, marking a change that previously prohibited such action. The move comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court this week declining to hear appeals from either Apple or Epic Games in their court saga. Epic sued Apple in 2019 over its App Store payment policies, and the case has rumbled about in the legal system since.

Apple has long restricted App Store purchases to its payment service. Now, with the release of new developer guidelines this week, Apple is allowing developers to place links to non-Apple payment methods in their apps, such as for extra content.

But, stipulations mean the links must go directly to the developer’s Web site with no redirects or intermediate links. The link must be submitted with the app to the App Store and be resubmitted if the link changes. It cannot mimic Apple’s in-app purchase system or discourage users from using it, Apple says. It can be displayed no more than once in an app and on no more than one app page the user navigates to. It cannot persist beyond that page, among other requirements.

Apple’s new external purchase link policy in its App Store requires this page to be shown before a user visits an external Web site to make a purchase.

Apple also provided templates for the text, such as “Purchase from the website at www.example.com” or “Lower prices offered on www.example.com.” Each app with an external purchase link, as Apple calls it, must also include a disclosure page that explicitly states the user is about to visit an external Web site.

And, unlike the 30% fee that Apple collects for transactions made in its App Store, it collects 27% of the transaction price as its fee for external links originating in an app.

Apple has been accused of using steering practices to keep transactions in its App Store. These new guidelines seemingly begin to address some of these complaints. Among Apple’s latest court moves in the matter was a July appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a 2021 case that invalidated Apple’s requirement that App Store businesses accept payments only through Apple’s platform.

Tim Sweeney, founder and chief executive of Epic Games, decried this latest move by Apple. Dubbing it “nonsense,” Sweeney in a post on X, says, “No platform maker should have the power to force [developers] to develop intentionally bad software to protect the platform maker’s unjust profit stream.”

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