Following the completion of an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple has announced a major update to the App Store which will allow developers to include “an in-app link to their websites for users to set up or manage an account” instead of only using the App Store sign-up system.
Although the agreement with the Japanese authority only applied to “reader” apps, Apple will apply the changes globally to all reader apps providing previously “purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.” The new policy will go into effect by early 2022.
This update comes after two recent changes to the App Store. In the United States, Apple’s settlement agreement with developers includes permission to let them directly communicate alternative payment methods to users through email. And South Korea passed a bill that prevents Apple and Google from charging in-app purchases commission from developers and letting them offer their own payment methods on iOS and Android devices.
Apple assures users of a safe experience even outside App Store
App Store’s arbitrary review process and communication have been an issue for Japanese developers for a long time. After Epic Games began its international legal battle with Apple to open the iOS platform to payment methods determined by developers, the chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), Kazuyuki Furuya launched an investigation against alleged anti-competitive behavior by the U.S. tech giants.
As a result of that investigation, the Cupertino tech giant is doing away with its status-quo policy of anti-steering and making changes for all developers on the App Store. But it the update allows developers of reader apps to offer alternative sign-up systems, not in-app purchase methods.
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.
At the same time, the company assures users of a safe digital market experience even outside the App Store.
Before the change goes into effect in early 2022, Apple will update its guidelines and review process to make sure users of reader apps continue to have a safe experience on the App Store. While in-app purchases through the App Store commerce system remain the safest and most trusted payment methods for users, Apple will also help developers of reader apps protect users when they link them to an external website to make purchases.