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Apple's App Store Dance: Unveiling New Rules Amid Epic Games Antitrust Saga

Apple takes the stage, orchestrating a symphony of change within its App Store rules this week
By Josefina Dipaolo
January 23, 2024

In a strategic dance with compliance, Apple takes center stage this week, unveiling updated App Store rules in response to a court order following the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the Epic Games antitrust case. The repercussions echo through the developer community, granting them the ability to endorse alternative payment methods within their iOS apps. However, the steps to this newfound freedom come with a caveat-laden choreography, complete with technical stipulations, an application process, and Apple's discerning eye on which apps can direct users to external websites.

As the curtains rise on Apple's compliance, the removal of the "anti-steering" clause introduces a complex process—developers must seek approval via the StoreKit External Purchase Link Entitlement to include desired links or buttons. The court's decision to avoid micromanaging Apple's new framework grants the tech giant authority in vetting applications, scrutinizing implementation, and maintaining control over potential threats arising from external payment processing.

The intricate dance unfolds as Apple mandates developers to provide detailed information about their apps, unique identifiers, and desired links. The new Link Entitlement brings forth regulations—developers must ensure that links direct users to their own responsibly maintained websites without redirects. The choreography extends to payment processors, demanding adherence to industry standards and offering user-friendly processes for dispute resolution, subscription management, and refund requests.

Interestingly, Apple introduces exceptions, noting that apps participating in the Apple Video Partner or News Partner Program are ineligible for the Link Entitlement. While developers in these programs enjoy specific commission rates, they relinquish the opportunity to market their payment links in-app, setting them apart from others who can.

Apple's App Store, the compliance ballet unfolds, revealing a delicate balance between newfound developer liberties and Cupertino's curated control. As the curtain falls on this chapter of the Epic Games saga, Apple's legal choreography may raise eyebrows, yet it intricately dictates the terms of engagement for developers seeking alternative payment routes. The dance continues, and the tech world watches closely as Apple orchestrates its App Store future, navigating the fine line between legal compliance and strategic control.

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