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

Last fall, Apple changed its App Store rules around in-app purchases for realtime experiences, and the guidelines technically require apps that offer virtual events to more than a single person to use in-app purchases.

apple developer app feature
Apple is not yet enforcing that rule, however, and has once again extended the timeline of when in-app purchases will need to be implemented. Apple has set the new deadline for December 31, 2021, which means that apps offering digital services to groups of people can continue to accept payment methods that do not use in-app purchases and are not subject to Apple's 15 to 30 percent cut through the end of the year.

Last year, to support apps that adapted services from in-person to digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we temporarily deferred the requirement to offer paid online group event services (one-to-few and one-to-many realtime services) through in-app purchase in accordance with App Store Review Guideline 3.1.1. As the world continues to recover from the pandemic, we'd like to support the communities that are still providing digital services in place of in-person group events by extending the deadline further to December 31, 2021.

Apple initially planned to begin requiring apps to comply with the in-app purchase rule for group digital events in December 2020, but implemented an extension in November 2020 that would have put the deadline at June 30.

Apple says that it is not going to enforce the rule in order to continue to support communities that are still providing digital services in place of in-person group events.

The App Store rules specifically apply to one-to-a-few or one-to-many events that involve more than two people. Person-to-person experiences between two individuals do not need to use in-app purchases, so tutoring sessions, medical consultations, real estate tours, one-on-one fitness training sessions, and more can be purchased using alternative payment methods.

Many popular apps, such as ClassPass and Airbnb, normally offer real world purchase options that don't need to use in-app purchases, but have been offering virtual experiences during the pandemic. Purchases for real world experiences are not subject to in-app purchases, but purchases for digital events are, so Apple has been wanting to take a cut of sales from those apps.

Airbnb and ClassPass complained, which led to the rule that allows person-to-person experiences to skirt in-app purchase requirements.

Popular Stories

iPhone 17 Plus Feature

iPhone 17 Lineup Specs Detail Display Upgrade and New High-End Model

Monday July 22, 2024 4:33 am PDT by
Key details about the overall specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup have been shared by the leaker known as "Ice Universe," clarifying several important aspects of next year's devices. Reports in recent months have converged in agreement that Apple will discontinue the "Plus" iPhone model in 2025 while introducing an all-new iPhone 17 "Slim" model as an even more high-end option sitting...
iPhone SE 4 Vertical Camera Feature

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Use Same Rear Chassis as iPhone 16

Friday July 19, 2024 7:16 am PDT by
Apple will adopt the same rear chassis manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 that it is using for the upcoming standard iPhone 16, claims a new rumor coming out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker "Fixed Focus Digital," the backplate manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 is "exactly the same" as the standard model in Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup, which is expected to...
Apple TV Plus Feature 2 Magenta and Blue

Apple TV+ Curbs Costs After Expensive Projects Fail to Capture Viewers

Monday July 22, 2024 5:11 am PDT by
Apple is scaling back its Hollywood spending after investing over $20 billion in original programming with limited success, Bloomberg reports. This shift comes after the streaming service, which launched in 2019, struggled to capture a significant share of the market, accounting for only 0.2% of TV viewership in the U.S., compared to Netflix's 8%. Despite heavy investment, critical acclaim,...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
iPhone 17 Plus Feature Purple

These 5 Features Will Make the iPhone 17 the Biggest Update in Years

Monday July 22, 2024 4:02 pm PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 16 models that we're expecting to see in September are going to be quite similar to the iPhone 15 models, but rumors suggest that Apple is making big changes in 2025. We've been hearing hints of an all-new device in the iPhone lineup, and it may be the most expensive iPhone Apple has offered to date. New 'Slim' Design Rumors have taken to referring to the new iPhone 17...
iPhone SE 4 Thumb 1

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Launch Early Next Year With OLED Display, 48MP Camera, and More

Monday July 22, 2024 7:22 am PDT by
The fourth-generation iPhone SE will offer a series of major upgrades over the current model, the leaker known as "Ice Universe" claims. The information was listed in a post on Weibo, which also detailed the specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup. As previously rumored, the fourth-generation iPhone SE is expected to feature Face ID and USB-C, marking a major upgrade from current and previous ...
bsod

Microsoft Blames European Commission for Major Worldwide Outage

Monday July 22, 2024 11:55 am PDT by
Last Friday, a major CrowdStrike outage impacted PCs running Microsoft Windows, causing worldwide issues affecting airlines, retailers, banks, hospitals, rail networks, and more. Computers were stuck in continuous recovery loops, rendering them unusable. The failure was caused by an update to the CrowdStrike Falcon antivirus software that auto-installed on Windows 10 PCs, but Mac and Linux...

Top Rated Comments

alex00100 Avatar
43 months ago
An easier rule would be "given us 15-30% of ANYTHING you do on your phone."
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IceStormNG Avatar
43 months ago

An easier rule would be "given us 15-30% of ANYTHING you do on your phone."
That's too obvious..
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
43 months ago
If Apple would drop these idiotic requirements, they wouldn't be dealing with so much antitrust fallout right now.

Apple should concentrate on making their payment system as convenient to use as possible, so it's WORTH losing the cut, rather than forbidding developers from using other methods.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nuno Lopes Avatar
43 months ago

An easier rule would be "given us 15-30% of ANYTHING you do on your phone."
That is the goal. To enforce a revenue share over stuff they don’t own, create, produce or actively sell by simply forcing themselves the only entity with billing ability in town. One to one is just a technicality that can be changed any time by them. Remote classes, video conferencing ... anything served digitally over a communication network they haven’t built wither ... for now. Wait for analogs ... its just a simple step really once you start charging for stuff that you have little to do with.

Basically Apple can charge whatever goes through devices they have built yet do not own. They are the the law maker, the judge and tax maker of what goes through 50% US smarphones/population without owning them ... just by selling a device. That is what they say to the customer that are selling ... look beautiful display and camera buy this .... Yet the after math its like not owning something, getting payed for it, and still collect tax over its use. Not to mention being able to fundamentally remove the competition on whatever they set their eyes on. All tangled up with legal justifications extrapolated from pure casuistic examples in prior art. Its brilliant.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kmann1983 Avatar
43 months ago

If you use the Amazon app on your iPhone Apple doesn't get a 30% cut. For these live events, they shouldn't be getting a cut of that either. They should only get a cut of purchases that can only be used in that app on your phone. If it's a purchase that can be used on a website, in real life, a reading app, etc, let the developers use their own payment method.

For games, I understand using Apple's in-app purchases system, especially if the game is free. Playstation, Nintendo and Microsoft all make developers use their payment systems, and they all charge 30%. You wouldn't be able to give your game away for free if the platforms didn't exist, and they won't exist if they don't make money.

For other apps, maybe change the requirement to be that Apple Pay has to be an option as well, but don't force in-app purchases.
The excuse "but others do it" is not a valid one. It's never been a valid stance in all of history.

Times change and what's expected changes.

The stance falls apart if you ask: Ok, if third-party app stores were allowed or installing binaries (like one does on Mac or Windows) were allowed, would this still be a thing? Probably not, many, if not most, would likely host their own all the way and abandon Apple.

For example, I don't pay Microsoft to sell programs on a Windows machine nor do users pay to allow that for the "privilege".

So, in that case, what does Apple bring to the table? Is it their bandwidth being used for these live events? Their bandwidth for storage of the data for these live events? Their storage for archiving those live events?

If the answer is just.. "their storefront" then, I'm sorry, no... Apple doesn't deserve a very large cut, in my opinion. Not until they offer something substantially more --or-- offer third-party appstores or installable binaries to prove their storefront is what brings the money.

Not gonna lie, when a (very) large company tries to scare people into the idea that if they don't hand over complete control and curation then the entire ecosystem falls apart.. then.. well... I simply don't believe that company, in this case Apple. I've seen that stance far too often.. and every time it's been wrong. Every. Single. Time. Walled gardens don't work for extended periods of time.

But I'm also well aware my opinion is not shared by most so... /shrug
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IceStormNG Avatar
43 months ago

Easier, yes, but better? I'm not sure. I can understand getting a cut for apps, books, music, etc. that are stored on Apple servers, and require Apple's internet distribution systems. But why give Apple a cut for other stuff that doesn't even involve Apple (ie virtual currency in games)?
Because that doesn't matter.. it's another way to get money. That's the only thing that counts. And as your App MUST go through the AppStore and play by Apple's rules, you have the option to pay that percentage to apple, or leave the iOS market completely.

They even don't like it if you have a service that can only be booked from outside. Smaller App developers reported that Apple "forced" them to also include IAPs instead of just relying on their website (which they didn't even promoted in the App).
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)