HomeWinBuzzer NewsApple Overhauls App Store Rules to Allow External Payment Methods following Epic...

Apple Overhauls App Store Rules to Allow External Payment Methods following Epic Games Legal Spat

Apple caves to Epic, lets developers link to outside payments (with caveats). External purchases allowed, but Apple still takes its cut (12-27%).


has updated its App Store Guidelines in the US, allowing developers to incorporate alternative payment system links within their apps, while adhering to certain conditions. This move comes in the aftermath of the company's legal confrontation with Epic Games and subsequent refusal by the to hear Apple's appeal.

Compliance with the 2021 Apple vs. Epic Verdict

Under the new guidelines, developers in the United States can now feature a link to an external website where users can complete in-app purchases, provided they also offer the option to make purchases through Apple's In-App Purchase system within the app. These entitlements permit the integration of buttons or links that redirect users to alternative purchasing options, provided the developers own or maintain the linked websites.

Streamlined Payment Pathways and Commission Structure

Apple has designed a clear pathway for these transactions, which must lead directly to the external website without redirects, open a new browser window, and not involve web views or additional URL parameters. The allowed links should remain static and declared in the app's info.plist before submission to the App Store, and re-submission is necessary if the URL changes.

Developers must ensure that the alternative payment option is not excessively promoted within the app or presented in a way that would dissuade users from using Apple's payment system. Furthermore, these options can be displayed on only one page of the app, in a specific location, and must be removed from the page once the user navigates away.

Commission Rates and Developer Responsibilities

While opening the arena to external payment systems, Apple confirms it will enforce a commission for purchases made through these platforms at a rate of 12% for developers who are part of the App Store Small Business Program and 27% for others. The commission is applicable to purchases made within seven days of a user engaging with an external purchase link, continuing from a system disclosure sheet to an external website.

Developers are required to maintain periodic accounting records for qualifying out-of-app purchases and remit the corresponding commissions to Apple. Despite the requirement, Apple acknowledges the challenges in enforcement, labeling the commission collection as “exceedingly difficult and, in many cases, impossible.”

Enhanced Communication Outside the App

Alongside the changes to in-app payment guidance, developers are now also permitted to communicate with customers about alternative purchasing methods outside of the app, such as through direct email. Apple implemented a similar anti-steering revision in 2021 after reaching a settlement with small developers in a class-action lawsuit.

The legal documents detailing these updated policies, which reflect a significant shift in how developers can direct users to external purchasing options, have been filed with the U.S. District Court, signaling a new chapter in the App Store's operation and possibly setting a precedent for digital marketplaces.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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