Apple revises App Store guidelines, loosening some in-app payment rules

September 11, 2020 1:27 PM

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) on Friday published a revision of some of its App Store review guidelines https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines, loosening some restrictions on streaming game services, online classes and when developers must use its in-app purchase system, which charges a 30% commission.

The company made the changes after criticism from developers over its App Store practices and after rivals such as Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google declined to launch their streaming game platforms on the iPhone because of Apple's rules.

Apple has long barred catalogs of apps within apps but said Friday that it would allow streaming game companies to create such catalog apps. However, each game within the catalog must still be made into its own standalone app and use Apple's in-app payment system.

Google and Microsoft did not immediately return requests for comment.

Other rule changes include allowing one-on-one virtual classes to be paid for outside of Apple's payment system, though classes taught to a group still must use Apple's system and pay its fees. The change comes after the New York Times reported https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/28/technology/apple-app-store-airbnb-classpass.html that ClassPass, which had helped users book in-person appointments at gyms, became subject to Apple's fees.

The new rules also let business applications such as professional databases skip Apple's payment system when selling to organizations, but still require Apple's payment system for sales to individuals or families. Apple also said that free standalone apps connected to a paid service outside the app - such as email or cloud storage services - do not need to use its payment system "provided there is no purchasing inside the app, or calls to action for purchase outside of the app."

The change comes after makers of paid email service Hey publicly criticized Apple for refusing to allow its free companion app in the App Store.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Grant McCool and Leslie Adler)

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