Apple eases App Store rules to allow for outside links to paid subscriptions

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Apple is relaxing rules to allow some app developers such as Spotify, Netflix and digital publishers to include an outside link so users can sign up for paid subscription accounts.

The iPhone maker said late Wednesday that it’s making a small adjustment to its strict App Store rules for developers of so-called reader apps, in order to resolve an investigation by regulators in Japan.

It’s the latest concession by Apple as it faces global pressure over the longstanding rules. One of the biggest complaints from app makers such as Spotify was Apple’s requirement that subscriptions only be bought through iPhone apps, allowing the company to take a commission of up to 30 per cent.

“The update will allow developers of ‘reader’ apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account,” the company said. Reader apps provide digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video.

The changes will take effect globally in early 2022.

Last week Apple agreed as part of a preliminary U.S. legal settlement that app developers would no longer be forbidden from informing users by email about how to pay for services outside the app.

The changes pave the way for developers to more aggressively encourage users to pay in other ways — and potentially deprive Apple of billions of dollars in revenue from commissions.



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