Apple has announced a new agreement with App Store developers that makes some tiny changes that should make creating apps for iPhone and iPad slightly more profitable for developers. The company didn’t make the giant policy shifts some people were hoping for, but at least it’s something.
Apple’s New App Store Policies
The new agreement between Apple and App Store developers in the US is designed to resolve a class-action suit from US-based app creators. Apple says, “the agreement will help make the App Store an even better business opportunity for developers, while maintaining the safe and trusted marketplace users love.”
The most significant change comes from how developers can seek payment for items within an app without relying on Apple’s in-app purchases. Now, a developer can use the contact information obtained from the app to email customers about outside purchases options. This means they can sell items and other in-app purchases without Apple getting a cut.
On that, the company said, “Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt-out.”
The biggest issue is that developers still have to go outside of the app itself to offer alternative payment methods. The problem that popped up with Epic Games wasn’t because Epic emailed customers but because they were promoting payment options outside of the App Store from within Fortnite, which isn’t allowed. Perhaps when that suit is settled, we’ll have a more satisfying conclusion.
Another change comes to the prices developers can charge. Now, developers have more than 500 price points to choose from instead of fewer than 100.
Apple also announced a fund to assist small US developers who have earned less than $1 million through the US storefront for all of their apps in every calendar year in which the developers had an account between June 4, 2015, and April 26, 2021. This encompasses 99% of developers in the US. However, Apple didn’t provide details on this fund, only stating that we’ll learn more later.
Finally, the company announced that businesses earning less than $1 million annually would continue to benefit from reduced commission for at least three years, which will help small developers make more money.
It’s a Step in the Right Direction
This is hardly the massive change we thought might come from this class-action lawsuit, but it’s better than nothing. Any move that allows small businesses to generate more revenue is a positive, though we expected a little more in terms of the payment options outside the App Store.