Apple has announced it will extend the grace it gave online groups and apps for events that allow them to avoid the company’s in-app transaction policy again. These apps can continue to avoid Apple’s infamous 15 to 30 percent share of all money flowing through the App Store. The new deadline is now June 30th.
The company announced in September 2020 that apps that offer “one-to-few and one-to-many real-time experiences” must implement Apple’s payment system. This category covers apps providing online classes and virtual group events. However, Apple later announced a concession that allows apps that offer “person-to-person experiences” consisting of just two people, like medical consultations or real-estate tours, to skirt the rules.
Apple faced criticism for making event apps cough up so much share of their revenue during the height of a pandemic when people needed them the most. This led to Apple giving these apps an exemption until November 2020, which it later extended to the end of 2021. Now, it has added six months to the grace period.
According to Apple’s press release:
“In order to provide more time for you to update your apps, we’ve changed the following requirement deadlines to June 30, 2022.
“Online group event in-app purchases
“In 2020, we chose to support apps and developers that needed to adapt services from in-person to digital as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we deferred App Store Review Guideline 3.1.1, which requires apps offering paid online group services to do so via in-app purchase.
“Given the recent resurgence of COVID and its continued impact on in-person services, we’ve extended the most recent deadline to June 30, 2022.
“As a reminder, guideline 3.1.3(d) allows apps offering real-time person-to-person services between two individuals (for example, tutoring students, medical consultations, real estate tours, or fitness training) to use purchase methods other than in-app purchase.”
Apple has faced pressure on its in-app policy of taking up to 30 percent of the revenue from any app and game, including in-app and in-game purchases and subscriptions. The company also forbids app developers from including any information about third-party payment methods.
Epic Games sued Apple last year and won a verdict that compelled Apple to let developers put links to external payment methods in the apps. Apple has agreed to allow dating services in the Netherlands to put external payment links in their apps. It would have faced a $5 million per week fine.
Similarly, Apple has agreed to let apps in South Korea use third-party payment options to comply with new laws guiding app store operations after developers complained to the country’s communication commission.
Despite paying so high to retain their apps in the store, Apple claims developers have been paid $260 billion since the store opened in 2008.