Apple has announced a number of changes to the App Store in response to a class action lawsuit filed by US developers. One of the most notable changes is that developers can now inform users about alternative payment solutions outside of their apps.
This class action lawsuit was first filed in 2019. This is not Epic’s case against Apple, but a lawsuit filed against Apple by small developers. App Store changes apply to all App Store developers in the US and other countries.
Notably, Apple claims that developers can “use communication tools such as email to communicate payment information outside of their iOS app.” This means that a company or developer can send emails to users with their consent to inform them of a subscription outside of the App Store.
However, Apple has confirmed that this change does not apply to in-app communication. Developers are still prohibited from informing users in the app about pricing or subscription options available elsewhere. In theory, Netflix could have a field in its iOS app for the user to enter their email address and then email them directly about payment options.
Other highlights of the settlement:
- Apple and its developers have agreed to keep the App Store Small Business program in its current structure for at least the next three years.
- App Store searches have always aimed to make it easier for users to find the apps they are looking for. At the developers’ request, Apple agreed that search results will continue to be based on objective metrics such as downloads, star rating, text relevance, and user behavior signals. The agreement will keep the current App Store search engine running for at least three years.
- Apple will also expand the number of pricing targets available to developers for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and paid apps from under 100 to over 500. Developers will continue to set their own pricing.
- Apple will retain the ability for developers to appeal an app’s rejection based on unfair treatment, a process that continues to prove successful. Apple agreed to add content to the App Review website to help developers understand how the appeal process works.
- Over the past few years, Apple has provided a wealth of new information about the App Store on apple.com. Apple has agreed to create an annual transparency report based on this data that will provide meaningful statistics about the app review process, including the number of apps rejected for various reasons, the number of deactivated customer and developer accounts, objective data on search queries and results, and the number of apps removed from the App Store.
Quite frankly, it looks like Apple even won the court, although if you read the points carefully, Apple is not changing anything within its ecosystem. Half of the paragraphs indicate “Apple agreed to keep for three years” that no one was going to change.
There is still no question of downloading applications from third-party sources. The commission remains the same – from 15% to 30%. The only new item is the ability to set prices, such as $ 1.29 or $ 1.49 instead of the previous policy of changing prices in one-dollar increments, but how much this is in demand by the application market is completely unclear.
As a result, leaving almost everything “as it was” (with the exception of the “official” permission for developers to communicate with users by email), Apple has received an excellent trump card for almost any future lawsuits on similar occasions, and looks like a winner, despite the official concessions to the community.
Small Developers Assistance Fund
Apple is also announcing the Small Developers Assistance Fund, which will pay $ 250 to $ 30,000 to developers who make less than $ 1 million a year from the App Store. Amounts will vary based on the developer’s “historical involvement in the App Store ecosystem.” Only US developers are eligible to participate in this program.