The Apple App Store had a rule that services couldn’t point users to outside signup pages, thus making sure they used Apple’s in-app subscription system. However, Apple has relented on that rule, now allowing certain types of apps to link outside to signup pages.
Apple Shifting its App Store Policy
For the longest time, Apple’s policy stated that companies couldn’t link to outside signup pages, as that would allow them to get around Apple’s fees. Thanks to the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple has relaxed that rule for what it calls “reader” apps. “The update will allow developers of ‘reader’ apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account,” Apple said in a release.
Now, developers of these types of apps can include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account. This means you can finally sign up for Netflix directly through a link in the Netflix app, instead of confusingly trying to figure out how to get a Netflix account from your phone (though you’ve always been able to visit Netflix.com on your device).
What is a reader app? These are apps like Netflix, Spotify, and Kindle. Apple says that “developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase.” Essentially, these are apps that aren’t making Apple any money anyway, so adding a small link won’t mess with the company’s revenue.
Japan Fair Trade Commission Is Done Investigating
This was enough to appease the Japan Fair Trade Commission, as it has ended its investigation into Apple, but it seems like a small consolation since most app categories (notably games, which generate lots of in-app purchases) still can’t link to outside signup pages.
Still, between this and Apple settling a recent lawsuit, at least the company seems to be relaxing some of its stricter policies.