Apple Inc. App Store Guidelines updated: Developers can now inform app users about external, third-party payment systems but will need consent

pple App Store Guidelines Updated Third-Party External Payment Systems Tax
Bypass Apple Tax Pic credit: Microsiervos/Flickr

Apple Inc. has updated its App Store Guidelines. The new amendments primarily pertain to the recent ruling about external or third-party payment mechanisms.

Moving ahead, app developers for Apple Inc. iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, can inform users about payment systems that do not go through Apple’s payment mechanism. Whether this new facility will help developers avoid the Apple Tax or not, is a completely different matter.

Apple Inc. allows app developers to ‘inform’ app users about external, third-party payment solutions:

Apple Inc. has always mandated that every transaction that takes place within its App Store must go through its own in-app payment system. This is how the company ensured it earns 30 percent commission on every sale.

Hundreds of app developers have grumbled about the Apple Tax. The company does offer an incentive program. However, it ends the privilege right after a developer makes more than a million dollars.

A group of disgruntled app developers in the U.S. filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple Inc. Leading another lawsuit are EPIC Games and the Coalition for App Fairness.

In August this year, Apple announced it had reached a proposed settlement in the class-action lawsuit. The agreement included a few items, but the biggest was that developers would be able to share information with their users about how to pay for purchases outside their iOS app and the App Store.

At the time, Apple said the changes would clarify that developers “can use communications, such as emails, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app.” Apple Inc. even confirmed that “developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Stores”.

These proposed changes are now officially a part of the new App Store Guidelines. Moving ahead, app developers can welcome app users to pay for their purchases through external payment systems. However, Apple Inc. has placed some restrictions that could negatively impact the relaxations or dissuade app users.

Apple Inc. changes rules and amends App Store guidelines that may make it difficult to raise awareness about external or third-party payment systems:

The new Guidelines clarify that developers can communicate with their customers about other payment methods available outside their app. Moreover, apps may request customer information like name and email.

This may seem straightforward, and Apple Inc. has tweaked the guidelines. Previous versions of the App Store Guidelines did not allow developers to use communication information obtained within their app.

Essentially, developers could not use the already available information to make individual users aware of external purchasing methods. The modified guidelines allow this, but app developers must seek users’ consent for the same.

“Apps may request basic contact information (such as name and email address) so long as the request is optional for the user, features and services are not conditional on providing the information, and it complies with all other provisions of these guidelines, including limitations on collecting information from kids.”

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