Apple said Wednesday that so-called “reading apps” that allow users to access content libraries on their phones will be allowed to use external links inside their apps so users can sign up or manage their accounts.
The move, which was announced last year as part of an agreement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, applies to applications that provide magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music or video content, Apple said. Reader apps include some of the most popular apps in the Apple App Store, including Spotify and Netflix.
Apple previously banned app developers from directing users to register through a website. Instead, they were forced to use the Apple App Store payment system, which accounts for 15% to 30% of sales. The new policy will allow these programs to bypass Apple’s fees by registering new customers directly in the app.
The change, now reflected in the Apple App Store guidelines, will allow reading apps to self-manage customers for users purchased through the app, and app makers have complained to regulators and courts around the world. The new policy is available worldwide, Apple said.
The rule does not apply to all programs. Games that offer in-app purchases, which make up the bulk of Apple’s App Store revenue, will still need to use Apple’s payment system.
Apple said in a statement on its developer website that interested developers can send a request form to Apple, and that Apple’s application review process will still approve app updates. The link should be formatted as a standard link, not a button, and contain the domain name of the website to which it links.
Apple also has some limitations – for example, any app that qualifies may also not offer in-app purchases, and the program may not offer real-time services with a person such as tutoring or fitness training that are still required for use App Store payments.
Apple said programs that include digital content as a feature but target other uses, such as social media, will also not participate in the program.
Apple requires a pop-up that warns that “Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of transactions made with this developer” before the user leaves the program.
The change in policy came after the rules of the Apple App Store were under close scrutiny by courts and lawmakers around the world.
In response, Apple made several changes to its policy and created restrictions and rebates for certain types of apps and app makers, but did not substantiate its main interest that it has the right to determine what software can run on the iPhone, and continues to argue that App fees Store not only for processing payments, but also for distributing and supporting the App Store.
In a separate blog post on Wednesday, Apple said it also changed its policy in the Netherlands, where it was fined nearly 50 million euros for failing to comply with an order from the country’s antitrust authority on consumer and market issues, forcing it to allow external links to dating programs.
Apple’s new policy does not require application manufacturers in the Netherlands to submit a completely different version, or “binary file”, than was previously required.
“As we have said, we do not agree with the original ACM order and are appealing against it,” Apple said in a blog post.