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

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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. 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.

Other developers and critics have expressed that Apple is doing the “minimum” possible to address longstanding App Store antitrust concerns.

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.

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