Apple today introduced a new set of App Store guidelines that include three key changes. One of the changes is the result of a previously announced settlement agreement with a class of US app developers. It specifies that developers are allowed to communicate with their customers on other payment methods available outside of their application. In this regard, another new directive explains that applications can request customer information such as name and email address, but the request should be optional for the user and should not prevent them from using the user. ‘application.
The third directive is unrelated to legal action and simply details how developers can use a new feature in the App Store, called in-app events, which rolls out next week.
In August, Apple first announced that it had reached a proposed settlement in a 2019 class action lawsuit filed against it by a group of U.S. app developers. The deal included a few things, but most importantly, developers could share information with their users on how to pay for purchases outside of their iOS app and the App Store. At the time, Apple said the changes would specify that developers “may use communications, such as emails, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app.”
“As always, developers will not pay Apple any commission on purchases made outside of their application or App Stores,” Apple also said.
These proposed changes are now officially part of the App Store guidelines.
Specifically, Apple removed a clause in guideline 3.1.3 that prohibited developers from using information obtained in their app to target individual users outside of the app to use purchasing methods other than the app. Apple’s in-app purchases. The old rule also provided that this would include sending emails to the address on file obtained when the customer signed up for the app.
Once this clause is removed, developers are no longer excluded from this type of communication.
Apple has also added a new section to the 5.1.1 (x) directive that explains in more detail how developers can go about requesting contact information from users. It says:
Applications may request basic contact information (such as name and email address) as long as the request is optional for the user, features and services are not contingent on providing the information, and that it complies with all other provisions of these guidelines, including the limitations on collecting information from children.
The rules against contacting customers, or what are known as “anti-direction” guidelines, is an area that has been the subject of extensive regulatory scrutiny in recent months. Lawmakers around the world have been scrambling to determine whether Apple is acting like a monopoly by limiting how developers can run their own businesses in terms of customer outreach, marketing, and choice of payment systems.
Already, Apple was forced to adjust its App Store rules due to various regulations in specific markets.
South Korea, for example, recently passed new legislation banning Apple and Google from requiring developers to use their respective payment systems. In Japan, Apple last month reached an agreement with regulators on “reader” apps that now allows them to connect to their own websites from their apps.
In the United States, Apple is engaged in legal action with the maker of Fortnite Epic Games. Although the case is now on appeal, the judge’s initial ruling would have required Apple to allow developers to point to their own websites in their apps, where customers could then pay directly for its services or subscriptions, bypassing the systems. payment from Apple in the process.
However, today’s changes do not go so far as to allow the integration of alternative payment systems directly into their applications.
Anti-leadership updates are just one area where regulatory pressure has played a role in pushing tech giants to adopt new policies.
Apple and Google have also adjusted their commission structures to reduce the reduction in developer revenue in various ways, including for small businesses, apps that provide access to media, and apps run by news publishers. This week, Google lowered its fees to 15% for subscription apps from day one, down from 30% in year one, which dropped to 15% in year two. It also reduced commissions by up to 10% for specific multimedia applications.
The other new rule arriving today is related to in-app events and just advice on how the new functionality can be used.
Announced at WWDC, in-app events give app makers a better way to showcase the events happening in their apps, such as game competitions, movie premieres, live experiences and more. Events will start appearing on the App Store from October 27 with the release of the iOS 15.1 update.
Apple advises developers to ensure that metadata is accurate and related to the event specifically when entered into App Store Connect and that events should take place on selected dates, including across multiple storefronts. It also specifies that the deep link should initiate the event directly when touched, and note events can be monetizable.
All three rule changes are effective from today.