Apple Extends Deadline Requiring Apps Offering Virtual Group Events to Use In-App Purchases

Apple in September tweaked its App Store rules surrounding in-app purchase requirements for realtime experiences, and as a result, apps that offer virtual events for more than a single person must use in-app purchases.

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Apple was originally requiring apps to comply starting in December 2020, but the deadline has now been pushed out until June 30, 2021.

As the world fights COVID-19, we recognize that adapting experiences from in-person to digital continues to be a top priority. Although apps are required to offer any paid online group event experiences (one-to-few and one-to-many realtime experiences) through in-app purchase in accordance with App Store Review guideline 3.1.1, we temporarily deferred this requirement with an original deadline of December 2020. To allow additional time for developing in-app purchase solutions, this deadline has been extended to June 30, 2021.

Apple's App Store rules allow apps that offer realtime person-to-person experiences between two individuals to use purchase methods other than in-app purchase, but this does not extend to group classes. So, for example, tutoring, medical consultations, real estate tours, and one-on-one fitness training sessions can be purchased within apps without having to rely on in-app purchase, but that doesn't apply to group events.

All realtime person-to-person experiences that are one-to-a-few or one-to-many events that involve more than two people have to implement in-app purchases. Apple made this rule change because so many services have been forced to go digital due to the ongoing health crisis.

Apps like ClassPass and Airbnb normally offer real world purchase options that are not subject to in-app purchases, but have instead been offering virtual experiences in recent months.

Since virtual experiences are subject to in-app purchase rules, Apple has been wanting to take a cut of sales from those apps, which ClassPass and Airbnb have resisted. As a result, Apple tweaked the rules to allow for person-to-person purchases that don't have a fee, while subjecting group events to the fee.

Apple has said that waiving commission for ClassPass, Airbnb, and similar apps would be unfair to other developers. "Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone," Apple has said of the dispute.

Apps like ClassPass and Airbnb will now have until the end of June 2021 to comply with Apple's new requirements. Apple also recently announced a policy that allows app developers that earn under $1 million per year to pay 15 percent commission to Apple instead of 30 percent.

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Top Rated Comments

ozzymo Avatar
47 months ago
Did anyone else laugh when they read the quote that "Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone"? Yea everyone who isn't Netflix or anyone who doesn't have enough power to threaten our bottom line. Apple hates Netflix and tried years ago to make them adhere to a stricter set of rules like the ones they are holding game streaming apps to. Netflix laughed and called their bluff and then Apple caved and made a different rule for video streaming apps known as the Netflix exception. Apple knows that if they pissed Netflix off and they took their app off iOS devices they would lose millions and millions of iOS customers to Android. Apple is so full of it. And it's crazy how many hoops the people on here will jump through to justify every random decision Apple makes.

But I posted in another thread and I would love for the apple cultists on here to defend two positions of Apple: 1). The fact that Apple caves to the Chinese government and kicks off apps the government doesn't like. Nothing wrong with doing that, but then you can't turn around and claim to be a company with a conscience that believes in human rights. 2). The privacy violations that are just coming out about Big Sur. Apple changed the network extension API that firewalls are allowed to use and made sure that their own processes and telemetry go around that api so no firewall can block it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PickUrPoison Avatar
47 months ago

Good to see the Apple money grab machine alive and well.
You mean the Apple money giveaway machine, right? Or maybe you didn’t read the article ?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ozzymo Avatar
47 months ago

Since when do governments around the world “force” companies to drop their commission rates 5 or 10 points because some complainers think it’s “too much”. That’s not a thing lol.

But yeah, cutting fees in half for all companies making less than a million is an awesome move. Thanks Tim Apple!

Large companies like Epic pay the full 30%, or maybe that 30% goes up to 35-40% to cover the money Apple will lose from giving smaller companies the 50% cut on commissions.
Dude drink kool-aid much? Apple really cares about small businesses? Why did Apple just decide to spread forth the goodwill now years after the App Store opened? They could have done this years ago. You really really think its a coincidence they're doing it now when they are under investigation all around the world for monopolistic app stores. Apple's bread and butter is not iPhones or iPads it is the App Store ecosystem. If they are forced to open up the ecosystem they will lose billions. Certain governments are already holding talks about these Silicon Valley app stores and their practices. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before they bust them open and knock apple down a peg or two.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Coconut Bean Avatar
47 months ago
Looking forward to the day when VAT finally stands for VERY APPLE TAX!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PickUrPoison Avatar
47 months ago

Oh how nice of Apple. Won't they go bankrupt though without taking that juicy 30% of everything they can?
Nope, they’ll be fine. I’m sure they appreciate your concern though ?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PickUrPoison Avatar
47 months ago

Yea they're getting scared of all the government scrutiny going on now. There is no goodwill on Apple's or Google's part. They figure it will be cheaper for them to drop some of the fees to 15% rather than take a chance of governments around the world forcing them to drop their rates and make other concessions.
Since when do governments around the world “force” companies to drop their commission rates 5 or 10 points because some complainers think it’s “too much”. That’s not a thing lol.

But yeah, cutting fees in half for all companies making less than a million is an awesome move. Thanks Tim Apple!

Large companies like Epic pay the full 30%, or maybe that 30% goes up to 35-40% to cover the money Apple will lose from giving smaller companies the 50% cut on commissions.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)