After several complaints from developers, Apple has just made a major announcement in which the company confirms that it will finally let developers redirect users to sign up for services on websites instead of using the App Store’s in-app purchases system.
The announcement comes after an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), which had been looking into Apple’s anti-competitive practices since 2019. The company confirmed to the press on Wednesday that as part of the settlement with the JFTC, developers will be able to tell users that they can sign up and manage service subscriptions through an external website.
To ensure a safe and seamless user experience, the App Store’s guidelines require developers to sell digital services and subscriptions using Apple’s in-app payment system. Because developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase, Apple agreed with the JFTC to let developers of these apps share a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their account.
Although Apple mentions that the changes only affect “reader” apps, the company emphasizes that this includes apps that offer content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.
The App Store guidelines will be updated in early 2022, when changes to subscription and in-app purchases rules will take effect. The company will continue to promote its own payment system as the most efficient and secure for developers and users, but it will no longer prevent apps from linking users to “an external website to make purchases.”
It’s worth noting that, at least for now, the changes do not apply to regular in-app purchases or apps. This means that developers will still have to offer their apps and content through the App Store, but now subscriptions can be made using other payment methods.
Last week, Apple had already announced some changes to the App Store guidelines as a response to a class action lawsuit by US developers. The company also announced a Small Developer Assistance Fund that will pay up to $30,000 to eligible developers.