iOS 15.5 adds support for apps with external payment options

iOS 15.5 adds support for apps with external payment options

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Apple lets reader apps link to their own sites
Apple last week confirmed it will allow 'reader' apps to add links to external sites.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s newest iOS 15.5 update, which was first made available to registered developers on Wednesday, begins adding support for external payment systems inside third-party apps.

The change comes after Apple last week confirmed that it will give “reader” apps the ability to include links to external sites where users can manage their accounts and subscriptions, and make purchases outside of the App Store.

Apple opens up to third-party payments

Apple is now being forced to allow third-party app payment options in some countries. South Korea became the first to rule that Cupertino couldn’t force App Store payments on every developer, and the Netherlands followed suit.

Lawmakers in other countries are expected to enforce similar rules in the future, and while Apple continues fighting to protect the strict App Store guidelines it has laid down, it seems inevitable that change is coming.

We’re not quite there yet, but Apple is fulfilling its promise to give “reader” apps — such as Spotify, Netflix, Audible, and Kindle — the ability to include links that allow external account management and purchasing.

iOS 15.5 adds support for external payment options

New code in Apple’s latest beta, discovered by 9to5Mac, reveals new features to support apps that offer external payment options. One of those is a warning that appears when a user deletes a certain app or game.

“External purchases from [app’s name] may still exist,” it reads. “You cannot manage or cancel any external purchases through the App Store. For more information, contact the developer.”

The warning makes it clear that after uninstalling the app, users won’t be able to manage their purchases on iPhone or iPad in the same way they can manage subscriptions for apps that use App Store purchasing.

Apple is also said to be implementing another alert when an app with external purchasing is opened for the first time.

Only for ‘reader’ apps

Again, these changes only apply to “reader” apps in most territories for now. “Reader” apps are those that essentially provide a portal to services or digital content purchased elsewhere, like music, movies, and books.

However, Apple could be forced to allow other apps to use external purchasing options in the future. Other countries, including the entire EU, are expected to follow the moves made by South Korea and the Netherlands eventually.

iOS 15.5 has only seen one beta so far, so it is likely months away from making its public debut. It is expected to be one of the last iOS 15 updates before Apple showcases iOS 16 at WWDC 2022 in early June.