Apple loosens restrictions on App developers

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Developers will now be able to communicate with their customers about direct purchase options.

This week Apple announced a number of changes coming to the App Store that, pending court approval, will resolve a class-action suit from US developers. The terms of the agreement will help make the App Store an even better business opportunity for developers, the company says.

Perhaps the biggest change is that developers will now be able to share information on how to pay for purchases outside of their iOS app or the App Store—which means they can tell customers about payment options that aren’t subject to Apple commissions. The settlement also includes more pricing tiers and a new transparency report about the app review process.

“From the beginning, the App Store has been an economic miracle; it is the safest and most trusted place for users to get apps, and an incredible business opportunity for developers to innovate, thrive, and grow,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow who oversees the App Store.

“We would like to thank the developers who worked with us to reach these agreements in support of the goals of the App Store and to the benefit of all of our users.”

Here’s what’s in the deal

Apple and the developers agreed to maintain the program in its current structure for at least the next three years. Businesses earning less than $1 million annually will continue to benefit from the reduced commission, while larger developers pay the App Store’s standard commission on app purchases and in-app payments.

Apple has also agreed that its Search results will continue to be based on objective characteristics like downloads, star ratings, text relevance, and user behavior signals. The agreement will keep the current App Store Search system in place for at least the next three years.

“Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app,” the company said. This is to “give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers,” they said.

As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. In addition, users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out.