Apple now allows Netflix, Spotify and other 'reader' apps to link to their sites for payment

It's part of the tech giant's settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission.

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Mariella Moon
March 31, 2022 4:41 AM
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Netflix, Spotify and other similar services will now be able to add a link in their iOS apps that take users to their own websites for payment and account management. Apple now allows developers of "reader" apps to link to a website that they maintain. The tech giant defines reader apps as applications that "provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video." 

Apple first announced that it will allow certain media services to add in-app links last year as part of a settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission. The company agreed with the stipulation, because those apps "do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase" anyway. While the change was a result of JFTC's investigation, Apple will apply the new policy to all reader apps around the world. That said, developers will have to request access to the External Link Account Entitlement program first before they're allowed to add in-app links. Also, while the change gives developers a way to avoid giving Apple a 15 to 30 percent cut, the company will still collect commissions for purchases within the app itself if the service offers any. 

Google also recently launched a pilot program to test third-party billing systems in Android, allowing users to pay for services either via its own payment system or the developer's. Spotify, one of the apps piloting the feature, will show subscribers Google's and its own billing system side by side starting later this year. Google will still get a cut even if the user chooses the service's own billing system, but it will be smaller than the 15 percent commission the tech giant typically collects for subscriptions. 

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