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This Apple press release and term changes are super confusing. Probably designed to be confusing. Let's look into them.

First, let's take the old terms. App Store guidlines point 3.1.3 from 2020-11-28: [1]

Apps in this section cannot, either within the app or through communications sent to points of contact obtained from account registration within the app (like email or text), encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase.

The old rules seem pretty straightforward. You're not allowed to contact users about other payment options if you acquired the contact info through the app.

Now, the press release from 2021-08-26 says: [2]

Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. [..] Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out.

This seems like it's purposely vague. The press release doesn't talk about the source of the contact information at all.

So let's take a look at the updated terms. App Store guidelines point 3.1.3 from 2021-08-25: [3]

Apps in this section cannot, within the app, encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase. Developers cannot use information obtained within the app to target individual users outside of the app to use purchasing methods other than in-app purchase (such as sending an individual user an email about other purchasing methods after that individual signs up for an account within the app). Developers can send communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase.

What a bizarre paragraph. First it explicitly makes it clear that it's forbidden to send the payment information using contact information obtained via the app. However the last sentence is a generic statement that seems to contradict that. Does Apple mean that you can only use contact information obtained elsewhere? That would then match the previous terms. So it's probably that. However it is worded in such a horrible way that I can't be sure.

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After looking more into it, I think some actual changes might still be coming. Here's the key paragraph from the actual court document: [4]

Apple has agreed to revise its App Store Guidelines to permit developers of all app categories to communicate with consenting customers outside their app, including via email and other communication services, about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase. See Berman Decl., Ex. A at § 5.1.3. Under the App’s Store existing Guidelines, developers may not use contact information (emails, phone numbers, etc.) obtained within an app to contact their user base outside the app. As a practical matter, this prevents developers from alerting their customers to alternative payment options. The proposed Settlement lifts this restriction, and it does so for all app categories.

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[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20201128030647/https://developer...

[2] https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/08/apple-us-developers-a...

[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20210825162013/https://developer...

[4] https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/21049923/apple_propos...




> the actual court document

That's a nice find!

I still find the language in the filing to be odd, specifically "all app categories". What good does allowing the communication changes for all app categories do, when most of them are not permitted to use non-IAP methods for payments in the first place? On the other hand, if they were changing the rules around when non-IAP payments are allowed, it seems like something that would be called out explicitly.

Maybe it could affect 3.1.3(f) and 3.1.4?


> What a bizarre paragraph. First it explicitly makes it clear that it's forbidden to send the payment information using contact information obtained via the app. However the last sentence is a generic statement that seems to contradict that. Does Apple mean that you can only use contact information obtained elsewhere? That would then match the previous terms. So it's probably that. However it is worded in such a horrible way that I can't be sure.

That sounds like you can’t use contact info you received as part of a paid signup to contact to switch to an out of band payment method.

In contrast to contacting a free tier user who’s email you’ve received as part of their signup flow. That situation would be allowed.

Indeed it’s bizarre as depending on when the contact data was gathered decides what you can do with it.


The way I interpret it is that you can email all your free users at the same time, with the below email, but you can't target individuals users and email them one at a time. My guess is what they are trying to avoid is a flow of: user signs up for free account with email => you inbox them saying:

  Subject: save 30% over in-app prices!
  Body:
  "don't pay through the app, use this link to our website"


It seems to me that paragraph hasn't been updated to reflect the settlement terms yet, since the settlement was filed today?


That seems to be the case yes. The settlement hasn't been approved yet either.




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