Apple will relax App Store rules for “reader” apps that let users access previously purchased content and subscriptions for books, magazines, music and more, the company said Wednesday.
The move closes an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission, and will apply to all reader apps on the App Store — in all countries. The agreement with the JFTC also paves the way for users to create and manage accounts inside iOS apps.
The Japanese commission’s investigation is one of many examining App Store practices and policies to determine whether Apple’s rules are fair for developers and consumers. And it’s not the first that has led to App Store changes.
South Korea introduced new legislation earlier this week that forces Apple and Google to open up their app marketplaces to third-party payment systems for the first time. It’s is believed other countries will soon follow suit.
The change to reader apps, which comes into effect in early 2022, will apply to all App Store users in all countries.
Apple will allow outside purchases in 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 statement Wednesday. “While the agreement was made with the JFTC, Apple will apply this change globally to all reader apps on the store.”
The change should allow developers to integrate an in-app browser that gives users the ability to create and manage accounts and access previously purchased content without leaving the reader app. But a browser is still required — the features cannot be integrated natively into a third-party app.
The rules surrounding this amendment remain strict, as you might expect from Apple. Developers can “share a single link to their website,” Apple said, but that’s as far as it goes. “Apple will also help developers of reader apps protect users when they link them to an external website to make purchases.”
Still, it’s a step in the right direction. And it should mean that you no longer need to jump out of apps like Audible, Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime Video and into Safari to manage your subscription.
’A safe and secure experience’ in App Store
“Trust on the App Store is everything to us,” said Apple Fellow Phil Schiller, who oversees the App Store. “The focus of the App Store is always to create a safe and secure experience for users, while helping them find and use great apps on the devices they love. We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we’ve done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust.”
The latest App Store change comes after Apple earlier this month agreed to allow developers to inform users about third-party payment options inside their apps, and announced a $100 million fund for small app-makers to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by developers.