17 Jun

Ars Technica – Apple quietly drops special subscription requirements for iOS apps

Apple revised its App Store review guidelines this week, noting (among other changes) that apps are no longer required to offer an in-app subscription option. Content providers can continue to offer outside subscriptions that are accessible via an iOS app, so long as no external links to outside purchasing mechanisms are built into the app. If subscribers can pay for content within the app, it must use in-app purchasing APIs, though content providers are now free to set whatever price they like.

These changes should address one of the major complaints about Apple’s subscription requirements, allowing content providers to set pricing to account for Apple’s 30 percent take. Also, it clearly spells out that services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Kindle, and others can continue to give its users access to content paid for via subscriptions that are handled outside the app or the App Store.

These changes don’t address the other major complaint that content providers have, namely that they won’t be able to collect detailed demographic information directly from subscriptions paid for via in-app purchasing. However, Apple allows latitude for developers to optionally request the information from users as long as the requested information and its transmission and storage are covered by a privacy policy compatible with Apple’s own.

While the timing of the changes comes a few weeks before the previous June 30 deadline, it’s also worth noting that they were published just one day after the Financial Times announced its strategy to offer subscribers access to its content via a Web app, which bypasses Apple’s App Store requirements and its 30 percent commission entirely. While some publishers already announced plans to support Apple’s previous in-app subscription plan, Apple’s changes may encourage others to produce native apps instead of Web apps. While Web apps offer cross-platform compatibility and don’t require Apple’s approval, native apps tend to have better performance and integration with iOS’s native user interface.

via Ars Technica – Apple quietly drops special subscription requirements for iOS apps. I’m glad Apple cleared this mess up. The new rules feel much more balanced for both publishers and Apple.