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Apple changes App Store rules as part of $100 million settlement

For years now, Apple has required that all developers on iOS use the first-party payment system, allowing Apple to take a revenue cut. This has led to higher subscription prices on iOS compared to Android for a number of apps and while there are alternative ways to pay for these services, Apple’s rules prohibit them from being advertised to customers from within an iOS app. Now, following from a huge lawsuit from Epic Games, Apple is implementing some changes. 

We still don’t know the final ruling in the Epic Games v Apple case, but the company does appear to be making some changes to lessen further backlash from developers. Last week, Apple agreed to allow iOS developers to send emails to users to advertise alternative payment options outside of the App Store.

Essentially, this means that a company like Spotify could email you to let you know that signing up for Spotify Premium is cheaper through the company’s own website than on the App Store. This could also apply to game developers selling DLC content or season passes.

Up to this point, Apple did not let developers use any contact information obtained from users signing up to their apps from outside of the app itself, thus creating the walled garden and stopping developers from advertising alternative payment methods. Aside from this policy changing, Apple is also making up to $100 million available in a settlement fund for US developers who lost income as a result of the old policy.

This particular change is not a direct result of the Epic Games lawsuit, but it very likely helped push things in this direction. Instead, these changes are being made as part of a settlement agreement for a separate class-action lawsuit, brought against Apple by a number of app developers.

As you would expect, Epic Games does have a negative opinion of this settlement offer. The company’s App Fairness Group has already issued a statement, branding this move by Apple as an attempt to “avoid the judgement of courts, regulators and legislators worldwide”.

Apple isn’t the only company in hot water over app store policies, Google has also come under fire for its Play Store rules on Android, which is the subject of another Epic Games lawsuit currently heading to trial.

KitGuru Says: There is no doubt that this move was brought on by increased pressure from developers and regulators. Whether or not it will be enough to satisfy complaints still remains to be seen.

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