Apple Revises US App Store Rules, Allowing Third-Party Payment Links
Bowing slightly to developer frustrations, Apple will now allow limited alternatives for in-app purchases beyond its payment system. But major critics call the move too little, too late.
The relaxed iOS guideline comes on the heels of Apple losing a Supreme Court appeal aiming to reinforce App Store control. However, significant constraints remain even under the policy change.
Alternative payment links can only appear once in an app, and developers need Apple’s approval first. Other usage restrictions apply too, revealing tight reluctance to cede much ground.
And while enabling third-party processors, Apple still demands a large commission on any purchases not going through its pipeline. This would be 12% for small developers, and 27% for larger ones.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, who spearheaded legal challenges around anticompetitive practices, immediately blasted the development on social media.
“This is a bad-faith ‘compliance’ plan to divide developers and consumers and entrench the App Store’s monopoly,” he wrote. Sweeney feels Apple will leverage the update to further push its own payment system over rivals.
Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson agreed, tweeting Apple “is going to poison the one victory Epic secured in their lawsuit.”
Indeed, many critics hoped for much bolder measures to encourage payment choice and innovation. So while technically an expansion of developer flexibility, the highly constrained approach leaves Apple’s walled garden largely standing.
For struggling app makers long stifled by what they view as Apple’s excessive control and fees, this incremental step feels too modest to celebrate. The company relaxing its grip only slightly means lingering burdens limiting growth and fairness.
And with legal appeals ongoing and regulatory pressure mounting, Apple likely hasn’t heard the last word on reforms sought by vocal developers and allies advocating for a more open app ecosystem.