App Store developers will soon be able nudge customers over email to make them aware of alternative payment options and perhaps avoid platform fees.
The change is being ushered in as Apple attempts to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of U.S. developers in 2019 who took issue with the App Store’s “profit-killing” commissions and fees.
In a bid to resolve the suit while “providing more flexibility and resources for small developers,” Apple has clarified it will now allow devs to “use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app.” Although a notable step, this doesn’t mean developers will be able to integrate alternative payment options into apps themselves.
“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,” continued the company in a press release.
Apple will also be expanding the number of price points available to developers for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and paid apps from fewer than 100 to over 500, and has committed to establishing a fund to assist U.S. developers who consistently earn under $1 million per annum across their entire portfolio.
“Eligible developers must have earned $1 million or less through the U.S. 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 — encompassing 99 percent of developers in the U.S.,” said Apple, before promising to share more details in the future.
Beyond that, Apple has pledged to maintain the current structure of its App Store Small Business Program for the next three years. App Store Search will also be preserved in its current form — meaning it will continue to be based on objective characteristics like downloads, star ratings, text relevance, and user behavior signals — for the same length of time.
The changes will come into effect following court approval, and have been announced as Apple continues to trade blows with Epic over its decision to bring third-party payments to Fortnite on iOS (resulting in Apple pulling the title from sale) in a bid to defy the “App Store monopoly.”