Some Developers Say Apple Letting Apps Like Netflix and Spotify Share a Link to Web for Account Sign-Up Isn't Enough

Apple on Wednesday evening announced that, starting in early 2022, it will allow developers of "reader" apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account. "Reader" apps allow a user to access previously purchased content or subscription-based content for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video, according to Apple, such as Netflix, Spotify, and the Amazon Kindle app.

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Following the announcement, some developers have said Apple's decision is not good enough.

For starters, some have criticized Apple's plan to let developers share only "a single link" to their website to help users set up and manage their account. Apple is still considering the types of wording it will let developers use for these links, according to The Irish Independent's Adrian Weckler, but some developers doubt that Apple will let them mention that customers can save money by signing up outside of the app.



Tweetbot co-creator Paul Haddad expressed disappointment that smaller developers "now have to subsidize all these big publishers" given that Apple's in-app link allowance will be limited to "reader" apps, many of which are owned by large companies.


Other developers and critics have expressed that Apple is doing the "minimum" possible to address longstanding App Store antitrust concerns. At the center of the concerns is Apple's 15% to 30% commission on in-app purchases of digital goods and the inability for developers to offer their own payment methods through the App Store.



Apple said its decision to allow "reader" apps to include an in-app link to their website for account management closes an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission over suspected violation of Japan's Antimonopoly Act, although Apple said the change will apply globally.

Apple's announcement about "reader" apps came less than a week after the company reached a $100 million settlement that, pending court approval, will resolve a class action lawsuit from U.S. developers who alleged that Apple has a monopoly on the distribution of iOS apps and in-app purchases. Apple said it will be making a few App Store changes as part of that settlement, such as letting developers email customers about payment options outside of their iOS app, but some developers were likewise not impressed with the concessions.

Top Rated Comments

iSRS Avatar
12 months ago
Not trying to be sympathetic to one of the most valued companies ever, but, Apple can not win here no matter what it does.

To summarize:

* Treat every developer the same, they get grief
* Treat subscriptions differently after the first year, they get grief
* Treat small developers differently (better rate), they get grief
* Allow reader apps to have one link to bypass the IAP, they get grief
* Apple has a purposely low annual fee to encourage more developers, they get grief that this fee should cover everything

Newsflash - Apple is not a charity.

Think about it this way - every one of us wants to get paid the most possible for doing our jobs. There are millions of free apps littered with ads that benefit from the App Store, and aside from the $99/year or whatever it is, Apple sees $0 from. They pay people to review apps, they store the apps, they pay the bandwidth for those apps to be downloaded, etc. But, yeah, a free app with ads that submits a new app update 6 times a year is clearly making Apple a profit.

”But they can afford it!” - only for so long. They start operating as a charity and then what?
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
turbineseaplane Avatar
12 months ago
It's not enough and it's infuriating that they are determined to do endless tiny little breadcrumb sized baby steps to avoid legal problems.

Apple should be leading on this and making big sweeping changes and fixing the issues and the narrative here.

I'm so totally disappointed in Apple leadership of late.

The magic is gone from this company.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4jasontv Avatar
12 months ago
Are these the same developers that nickel and dime their customers with microtransactions and subscriptions for a sophomore comp sci project?
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cinimod1000 Avatar
12 months ago
Sorry Developers, but as an Apple customer I DO want one App Store, and one simple fast method of payment. This will become a hot mess if I have to click a link and set up an account & pay with each Dev. Not gonna happen. I. Just. Won't. Buy.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
brett_x Avatar
12 months ago
Cheerleader: "What do we want?"
Developers: "Everything our way, for Free"
Cheerleader: "Where do we want it?"
Developers: "On your platform that you've made us successful on for nearly a decade"
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vagos Avatar
12 months ago
Apple is the new Microsoft. Sad but true.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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