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Judge orders Apple to allow external payment options for App Store (theverge.com)
389 points by dkobia 75 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 209 comments



A few things people seem to be missing in this thread:

- This ruling doesn't allow for supplanting IAPs, as the it only prevents Apple from prohibiting external links to alternatives. So apps still aren't allowed to have in-app payment alternatives, they can have a link to something else, and AFAICT they can still mandate an IAP option should be present if the app has such a link, like they do with "Sign in with Apple".

- If that sounds familiar, that's because it is: this isn't too far off from the agreement Apple reached with the JFTC that allowed "reader apps" (think Netflix, Kindle, Spotify) to have a link to an external website to set up user accounts: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/09/japan-fair-trade-comm...

- This is extremely unlikely to hurt Apple's profit margins all that much, because the judge also rules that Apple was entitled to a licensing fee, which it could still claim for payments made outside Apple's IAP system. This point is probably why Apple is fighting the ruling, because with external links they might have to put a lot of effort into getting their cut, as opposed to what Google did with their payment alternatives - i.e. adding a "service fee" to in app transactions but allowing alternative payment services. (This might not apply to the exception carved out for "reader apps")

Essentially, nobody wins. Even in the best case scenario, Apple will probably keep a significant portion (but not all) of its cut, developers still have to pay through the nose and users will probably stick with Apple's IAP if the provider can't make a significant difference, and can't sideload apps that the App Store won't allow. Yay!


> what Google did with their payment alternatives - i.e. adding a "service fee" to in app transactions but allowing alternative payment services.

As of September 2021, all apps on the Play Store must use Google's mobile payment platform exclusively, and developers can't link to alternative payment methods.


That point is specifically re: the changes Google is making in South Korea due to their new law: https://developers-kr.googleblog.com/2021/11/enabling-altern...


Thanks for the clarification, that looks like a good law.


This is wrong.

As of November 2021 in UK I have multiple well-known apps that make it possible to avoid using Google payment systems: Nero Express, Weatherspoon. These are just off the top of my head.


From Google[1]:

> 1. Developers charging for apps and downloads from Google Play must use Google Play's billing system as the method of payment.

> 2. Play-distributed apps must use Google Play's billing system as the method of payment if they require or accept payment for access to features or services, including any app functionality, digital content or goods.

> 3. Apps other than those described in 2(b) may not lead users to a payment method other than Google Play's billing system. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, leading users to other payment methods via:

> An app’s listing in Google Play; In-app promotions related to purchasable content; In-app webviews, buttons, links, messaging, advertisements or other calls to action; and In-app user interface flows, including account creation or sign-up flows, that lead users from an app to a payment method other than Google Play's billing system as part of those flows.

[1] https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answ...


That's a café and a pub. We're talking about digital goods. Physical goods are obviously excepted otherwise there would be no Amazon or Uber app.


Simply because it's not enforced doesn't mean it's not against the developer agreement. This is part of the issue--selective enforcement.


This is not true. I am running several apps here in India that use their own alternative payment methods (mainly UPI, India's ingenious mobile payments platform) for in-app purchases in Android. Hell, even Google Pay itself is based on UPI in India.


From here[1]:

> New and existing apps submitted by developers based in India will have until March 31, 2022 to comply, and new and existing apps submitted by developers based in South Korea will have until September 30, 2021 to comply.

You have until 2022. If you're dealing with physical goods or bill payments, then you might be exempt.

[1] https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answ...


That’s the same exemption as on iOS, if you’re a webstore you don’t have to use Apples payment solution for purchases.


>Any existing app that is currently using an alternative in-app billing system will need to remove it to comply with this update. For these apps, we are offering an extended grace period until September 30, 2021 to make any required changes.

>New and existing apps submitted by developers based in India will have until March 31, 2022 to comply, and new and existing apps submitted by developers based in South Korea will have until September 30, 2021 to comply.

https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answ...


I would go further- I haven't used a single app which required me to use Google's payment method. Every app allows a direct external IAP.


What's an _external_ IAP?


> the judge also rules that Apple was entitled to a licensing fee, which it could still claim for payments made outside Apple's IAP system

A lot of the commentary on Twitter has missed this important point.

People were quick to dunk on Apple's assertion that allowing links would require massive amounts of engineering effort [1], because on its face it does sound stupid: just let iOS app developers link out to external purchase options, right?

Nope. Apple still has the authority to take money from developers even if they are no longer using Apple's payment services.

That's where the engineering effort is going. To make the external linking process as onerous as legally possible for consumers and developers.

[1]: https://twitter.com/thedextriarchy/status/145819565972781056...


Apple and Google transformed mobile into a poisonous experience. Apart from being constantly spied, you don't get to decide what you can do with your own device. You can't install software unless is approved by them and if it is, you have to also pay them.

As a developer, if you target iOS and Android your app should not compete with their apps, you have to get it approved and you have to get them a 30% cut for nothing.

Why can't installing software on mobiles work exactly like on desktop?


On Android the experience of manually installing an App is better than the average Windows installer. You download an apk, open it, click on install, wait, click on done. If it's your first time you get redirected to a settings page where you have to flip a clearly labeled switch before you can proceed. Better than the Windows experience of clicking "next" way too often while getting tricked into the bundled McAfee trial.

Yet most Android apps are only available over the Play store. It's a classic platform effect: all the customers are on the Play Store, so all the Apps are the, so all the customers are there. Windows never managed to get this kickstarted (not for lack of trying).

For app categories that aren't allowed on the Play store providing the apk works and it doesn't seem to be too much to ask of people. But if your competitor is on the Play store and you aren't then you lose on convenience. And of course the mobile app pattern of updating your app every other day only really works with the auto-updates of app stores.

I'm not sure I can fault Google for any of that. We can fault them for preventing other App stores from gaining traction by withholding features from them in the past, but the decision to use an App store at all isn't forced on anyone (on Android, iPhones are a different story)


Google requires you to use their infrastructure unless you want to have significantly reduced battery life.

There is no energy efficient way to listen for notifications unless you use Google's solution that they baked into the kernel.


Very true. Every talk about app 'sideloading' should include the capability to make a device run an alternative push notifications service.

It isn't much to ask, actually, such services are pretty easy to create.


It will always take more energy to monitor two sockets than one, especially one that's less optimized.

What is the downside of using Google's? You can E2E encrypt messages and using firebase for notifications is free.


It's about privacy. That metadata is extremly valuable is something that not only the NSA discovered but also Google, Facebook, and many more.


But but but malware! People love these shiny handcuffs imposed on them, because they keep them safe from harming themselves!

Even here I've had a lot of arguments with people who say it is a very good thing. And of course they don't care about people in countries like Russia or China where the Apple submits to government requests to remove certain apps - leaving their users unable to run them at all.


I wanted a sedan, not a 4WD - if I wanted a 4WD I would have bought that instead.

I’m pretty tired of people telling me what is “good” for me. When they don’t know my situation or how I use my tools.

The product you’re advocating for exists - I didn’t buy it on purpose. I know it exists, I looked into it and it wasn’t for me. I don’t want the product I chose to turn into that other product - that would be a bad thing. That would be anti-consumer and anti-choice - I don’t regret the choices I made and I’m regularly reminded that they were the correct choice to make.

I’m educated and mature enough to know what is good for me, I don’t need a random telling me what is good for me. Stop pretending to know what is good for me - you don’t know what is good for me and using jail metaphors doesn’t make you sound convincing - it makes you sound biased with a predetermined outcome. Don’t try to “market” to me using such words, they are transparent.

Contrary to your hand waving of the concerns of others - there remains legitimate issues with that approach, and arguably it’s good that both options exist in the market.


> I wanted a sedan, not a 4WD - if I wanted a 4WD I would have bought that instead.

I have said this a dozen times and I will keep saying it: being able to exercise the same level of control (on a device you own) as the company that manufactured it and sold it is a matter of consumer rights, not choice. In the same way that the law requires car makers to adhere to certain standards and make parts available, the same thing should happen with electronics that have any sort of chip capable of running any code. It should be straight up outlawed that a company can have more control over a device than its end user, even after the end user has bought it.


So to be clear, your argument is that I have the right to full control of my devices, and that right entails that I _don't_ have the right to buy a locked down iOS device?

I understand that I don't have the right to take an unsafe vehicle on the road. That's logical, as it impacts others. But saying that I have a right I must exercise in a certain way (i.e. must have full ownership of devices), even when it affects no-one else, isn't a right, it's a duty.


Don't install an alternative store. Simple.


> I’m educated and mature enough to know what is good for me

Surely then you wouldn’t install anything you didn’t want to, if non-App Store installation was possible?

To use your metaphor, we’re talking about the sedan also having a switch that turns it into a 4WD, only as needed and for those who want it.


> Surely then you wouldn’t install anything you didn’t want to, if non-App Store installation was possible?

My job might require me to install apps from Honest Achmed's App Store, Certificate Authority, and Used Cars (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=647959).

I would have bought an Android if I wanted a free-for-all platform with limited security updates, multiple app stores, and other debris; I chose an iPhone so I wouldn't have to deal with these issues.


I respect that time brings change, at first I would likely never need to use it and could easily keep it off.

However that’s not how things work - and eventually I will be forced to use it to achieve the tasks I achieve today without it.

Advocate for yourself, but don’t pretend to advocate on my behalf when you’re actually just advocating for yourself.

Then when everyone is advocating for themselves - that will reveal who is the actual minority.


I absolutely love the 'shiny handcuffs'. My phone is an appliance, I don't want to bother about thinking about keeping it patched, about threats, about malware. I want to use the thing. If I want a general purpose computing device, I've got one of those.


You may love not having freedom to run whatever the app you please. But why are you fine with everyone else not having this freedom?

There are people living in actual dictatorship countries who can't access the information vital to them, because Apple and Google happily do business with brutal dictators?


>You may love not having freedom to run whatever the app you please. But why are you fine with everyone else not having this freedom?

What!? Because someone buys an Apple phone they don’t want anyone else to be able to choose their own phone?

I use an iPhone and I fully support you making your own choices. I hope you used your choice to vote with your wallet and buy a pine phone or a librem.


Someone buys an iPhone and uses it, and then suddenly discovers that Apple forbids him using the app. Money are already paid to Apple, who then acted against user interests.

I can't even fathom what's in brains of people who are fine with that!


Do you have examples of Apple 'forbidding' the user from using an app that they have previously purchased?


Of course. Any app that is blocked in app store is uninstallable on any of your devices. On a new one or after reset.

It won't go away from your phone if already installed, but Apple sure has this ability.


This has been beaten to death, but at least for Apple it means degrading the user experience for those of us who love “not being free” or whatever silly slogans people want to use. Why can’t I have the “freedom” to buy an iPhone just how it is today? Why are you supporting courts infringing on a peaceful transaction between two entities? If you want to do the whole screening from the rooftop about rights thing then you’re going to have to respect the rights of others too, not just what you want.

With the App Store mechanic Apple can collectively bargain on behalf of users. Do you think companies would allow anonymous signin on a third party App Store? Or post how they collect and use your data? Of course not. Apple makes that happen.

If you want to use more than one App Store just buy an Android phone and get on with your day. If the Apple model of a single store is truly the inferior model Apple will be forced by market mechanics to allow others.


> degrading the user experience for those of us who love “not being free” or whatever silly slogans people want to use.

Speaking of silly slogans, how does my freedom to install an app on MY device degrade your experience?


Because it significantly harms the ability of Apple to collectively bargain on behalf of users.

Again, all this talk about freedom but you’re the one insisting that two consenting parties change what they do because that’s what you want. You’re going to need a better argument than that. Why are you bothering Apple and I from a consensual and peaceful transaction? How are we harming you? What “freedom” is being taken away? I guess you believe you alone have the freedom to “buy an iPhone from Apple that allows 3rd party app stores”. But I don’t have the freedom to buy an iPhone from apple that doesn’t allow this? Or that Apple doesn’t have the freedom to sell the device they want to sell?


> to collectively bargain on behalf of users.

You wanted to say, "To bargain for themselves using their users as leverage".

Also, about 'two consenting parties'. Apple never tells their users that they will be unable to run the apps they NEED. They tell 'we remove malware and keep you safe'. When a user finds out that Apple removed an app run by opposition on request of the authoritarian government, it is too late to ask for a refund.

I do not consent for this keeping me 'safe', but the vast majority of users do not know that they aren't free to use their devices as they want, running any app they need.


Then don’t buy an iPhone. Problem solved. Clearly it’s not the product for you. Use your freedom to buy an Android phone. There are dozens of options.

> You wanted to say, "To bargain for themselves using their users as leverage

No, I wrote what I wanted to write.


Then you intentionally lied. Apple does not bargain of interests of their users. This is proven by a single fact that you are forbidden to run Signal in China, or Navalny voting app in Russia.


Explain please how you would go about flagrantly violating the laws of China or Russia without going to jail, or worse.

Should Apple leave China? Would the net effect be positive or negative for Chinese people? Ambiguous at best.

Of course it would have an enormous impact on Apple's financials and manufacturing abilities, with negative consequences worldwide.

Serenity for the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


> Should Apple leave China?

No. The solution is very simple.

Apple should simply allow users to install apps at will, sidestepping the AppStore. China tells to remove Signal from the AppStore? Whatever, Apple complies and users download it directly from Signal, sidestepping the great firewall via VPN or something.

This problem in its entirety was created by Apple's malicious desire to control what users can run on their devices. Consequently, this gives bad actors big leverage over Apple, which is forced to serve not only its greedy needs, but also the needs of those bad actors.


Why do you think that China wouldn't just down these other app stores?


There are ways to bypass any 'downing' China can do to a service. Unless they start using missiles to bomb datacenters in US and EU, of course.


And this is why Signal on Android is so popular in China?

Problem solved?


No. This does not solve the problem of iPhone users.

Btw, how would you feel if you wouldn't be allowed to run any app you want on your MacBook? Apple rolls out new macOS 16, says, " For your own safety, AppStore is now mandatory".


Signal was available on iOS in China until the Chinese government banned Signal.

Apple maintains a curated App Store, which puts them in gatekeeper mode for Chinese laws, in China.

I respect, appreciate, and value a curated App Store. The combination of circumstances above does conflict with my preference for the freedom of Chinese citizens.

But my disagreement is with the Chinese government, and their lack of accountability to the Chinese people. It's ethnocentric of me to assume that the Chinese people want Western-style freedoms -- and some evidence of unknown quality says they generally do not -- but I still believe that there are intrinsic rights of all humans which should not be oppressed by their governments.

I also believe that allowing alternative App Stores, or sideloading, on iOS would be destructive. By being the only game in town, Apple is able to enforce standards that are onerous sometimes (as an iOS developer) and unfairly applied sometimes (because that's a universal truth of the world), but on net add great value to iOS.

You obviously disagree, and that's cool. I'm very glad you are able to choose a product that suits your needs, and I am able to choose a product that suits mine.

Re: macOS App Store. It's different because I treat my phone as an appliance that should not surprise me nor require maintenance. It should always work. All apps should perform a function, and they should be available without extra hassles.

However, I don't hate the idea of additional OS protections on macOS. I like SIP and the ChromeOS RO boot partition model. I would like application segmentation. I use jails on FreeBSD and zones on Solaris.

This is easy for me to appreciate because I have other machines that are tuned to suit other sets of needs. I recognize that people with a single device (phone) or two devices (phone + laptop) who have needs that would conflict with OS restrictions will struggle more than I.


> I also believe that allowing alternative App Stores, or sideloading, on iOS would be destructive.

Your long argument boils down to this. I believe that the effect will be the opposite. Increased competition always benefits the customers. AppStore experience on the developer and on the user side is quite lacking, so if Apple would be forced to compete, everybody (but Apple) will benefit.

And it will also remove the leverage bad state actors like Russia or China have over the company.

You see, iPhone and iPad are not 'appliances', they are supercomputers, and users who want to use them as such must have this option.


> Increased competition always benefits the customers.

This is clearly not an absolute truth, as it depends entirely on your criteria for evaluation.

> You see, iPhone and iPad are not 'appliances', they are supercomputers,

Nope. They're little toy tools. Doesn't matter the processing power, if it's consumed in adding filters to social media photos, or running an ssh session.

> and users who want to use them as such must have this option

But they do. There are other products.

By this logic, users who want the security of knowing they don't have to worry about the device, and want the value conferred by a common platform where vendors don't require users to do weird shit because they don't want to play by benevolent overlord's rules -- thereby cheapening the entire ecosystem ... "must have this option" also.

Look, I get it. We disagree. But your preferences are not any more important than mine. It's a mistake to present your strongly-held preferences as absolute truth.


Your choice is to be a slave to a monopoly. Mine is to force a monopoly to stop abusing (and brainwashing!) their customers.

I repeat once again: you should not have the ability to impose your lack of the need for freedom on other people. "Buy another device" is not a valid choice. Users buy in because they are advertised 'great user experience', but then this turns into 'we'll block apps that you need on request from your local authocrats'. They aren't told in advance that Apple will abuse their monopoly position and unfair and abusive practice of not allowing third party installs.


Your choice is to use dramatic language to willfully misunderstand the reality of the situation.

You should not (and you do not) have the ability to impose your demands on any manufacturer of any product. You cannot compel the work of another human being.

Product advertising always comes with presumed context. "Less filling, tastes great" might be a lie, but even if many people agree, many others do not. "Great user experience" is about as obviously-subjective as you can get. This is a red herring.

Apple does not abuse a monopoly position. Apple does not have a monopoly on anything. It is not unfair or abusive to not compromise their device and ecosystem (security, privacy, marketing, etc) to allow a niche use.

In fact it would be a terrible technical and business decision to reduce the value of your flagship product for the vast majority of the market, to serve a sliver of same.

Again: we disagree. If you can't grow past the overdramatic language of righteousness to think about this issue rationally, we will not be able to communicate. I am not insisting that you will agree with me if you are rational -- but you're presenting the arguments of someone who is incapable of thinking beyond their own nose, or believes that the truth they've found for themselves is universal. In short, like a child or a zealot.


Because as soon as a company like FB[1] can move outside the App Store, they will in order to bypass privacy policies. This impacts everyone who wants to use the FB app.

Of course that control is not always good, but it's also not always bad.

[1] https://www.theregister.com/2019/01/30/facebook_apple_enterp...


Why didn't in happen on Android? FB can even run their own app store, but they still stay on Google Play. I think this simple fact invalidates your argument.


Wasn't this the case with Fortnite, which originally was available only as a side loaded app, and now you need a separate store app to install it? Or am I misremembering it?


Yes, and what? Did anyone suffer because of it?


How about they make it opt-in? Default to walled garden of today. Give people an option to breath the clean air outside the castle gates if they choose. THATS Freedom.


Why not just buy an Android phone with the features you want? That’s what I don’t get here. Like if I wanted to repair my phone for example I’d buy a phone with that as a feature. If I wanted to “install anything I want” I’d buy a phone with that feature or capability.

If you just don’t buy an iPhone then maybe market forces will cause Ape to add this (to your eyes) feature.


> Why not just buy an Android phone with the features you want?

That's exactly what I did, but I know several iPhone users who don't feel comfortable making the switch despite being unhappy with Apple's policies. It's a big deal to change ecosystems for people who are heavy mobile users. It might mean getting new accessories, learning new apps (or not having a direct replacement for an app), and losing several other benefits of being in a single ecosystem.

It's ridiculous to say that customers should shut up and take their business elsewhere. If current users don't speak up about Apple's consumer/developer-hostile behavior, who will?


I don't think it's consumer hostile. It's consumer positive. I don't want multiple app stores. I want Apple's heavy-handed approach. I want Apple to make developers who are trying to screw over people fess up to their anti-consumer activities. If Apple changes as you want it, then now I'm unhappy with Apple's policies. It's a big deal for me to change ecosystems as a heavy mobile user. I might have to get new accessories or learn new apps, or lose several other benefits of being in the Apple ecosystem.

> developer-hostile

It's the developers who are mostly hostile TBH. That's why they're railing against things like Apple enforcing data permissions or making developers at least nominally fess up to how they are fucking you and stealing your data. Developers aren't some magical good "guy/gal" to be put on a pedestal.


> I don't want multiple app stores.

Why does you not wanting multiple app stores matter? Many Android users don't set foot outside the Play store and you could do the same. Apple supporting "sideloading" or even just supporting the PWA spec would only increase the options for using your phone, without forcing you to change your current usage at all.

> It's the developers who are mostly hostile TBH.

Now you're being deliberately disingenuous. Apple has a long track record of developer-hostile behavior.


> Now you're being deliberately disingenuous. Apple has a long track record of developer-hostile behavior.

No I'm not. Developers are clearly user-hostile. Facebook anyone? This is obvious.

> Why does you not wanting multiple app stores matter?

Because if developers can leave the Apple App Store and move to third party app stores, then all of the benefits of collective bargaining that go along with Apple making developers do things like support Apple anonymous ID, or state what they use data for, go out the window because Apple loses it's dominant position on the platform. And there is little to no benefit for me as a user. I don't care if Netflix (contrived example) makes less money because Apple takes a cut. Apple provides me with a valuable and easy to use payment mechanism. It's not worth the trade-off for me. So yea I'm going to oppose something that doesn't add value to me and takes away value from me.


if YOU don't want multiple app stores, DO NOT use them. Why should OTHER people who WANT multiple app stores NOT have them? For your convenience?

Once and again, you project your needs (or lack of them) on other people.

Your reasoning is exactly this: "I don't like gay people. Gay sex should not be allowed".


> Why not just buy an Android phone with the features you want? That’s what I don’t get here.

"Vote with your wallet" is a bogus argument because undercutting the rights of the consumers that actually pay for the device and own it, in effect means that consumers end up with no choice. If Apple says you can only install apps from App Store, and Google says Android phones will spy on you, who do I turn to if I don't want both these features? There is no real choice, not only because corporates form alliances and behave like cartels to not only stem competition but also to ensure the rights of the consumers are suppressed (e.g. Apple has actively lobbied against the right-to-repair movement). Suppressing consumer rights only benefits big businesses.


>"Vote with your wallet" is a bogus argument

No it’s not. You guys guys spend all this time complaining about Apple and Google. But getting them to change is going to be a long game if they change at all.

What you guys are not doing is promoting phones that are open. These products aren’t going to get better without customers.

As it stands, what it looks like is you guys hate Apple and Google and then just turn around and buy more of their products.


> What you guys are not doing is promoting phones that are open.

That criticism is somewhat true and the reason for it is that it is a short term solution - it still means you are accepting that corporates gets to dictate how your devices should be and what you can do with it. (For the short term, absolutely - let's support and buy their products too. For e.g. I don't own an iPhone or Android phone and instead rely on https://sailfishos.org/ ).

I am all for free market and capitalism. But you have to first understand the nature of both.

For-profit companies will always choose the most profitable path. The more profit you make, the longer you survive in the market and the better you can squeeze out your competition. Open devices mean less profit. And that is why none of the current BigTech are focusing on it. As capitalists they would be fools to sacrifice their profits for something that will make them less money. Moreover, what guarantees do you have that tomorrow that these same open devices won't end up closed? Or that one of the BigTech won't buy them and scuttle their product when they become competitive (because that's exactly what they will do)?

This is why we have consumer rights and government regulations - without them businesses would only focus on more profits and, black marketing, hoarding, and other anti-consumer and anti-competitive behaviours would still be very dominant in the market.

That is why the real long-term solution is demanding existing consumer rights / regulations be enfored and / or new ones be created as necessary.


Ok so who do I turn to when I only want a curated App Store from Apple on my iPhone so I can enjoy the conveniences of the iPhone like Apple Pay, anonymous sign-in enforced, and other features that I value?

Or is it that consumer rights only matter when they come from you?

Every time this conversation comes up people act as though the 3rd-party App Store stuff is a good thing that everyone inherently wants and if you don't want it you must be violating some user rights or w/e and be a corporate shill for apple against the innocent little poor developer community.

All platforms, software or otherwise have restrictions of some sort. I can't just sell whatever I want at Wal-Mart or Amazon. Maybe consumers do want products with lead in them if they're cheaper - who are you to deny their freedom of choice? I'll take my own risk thank you very much.

So w/e. Frame it how you want. Ultimately it'll happen but it's going to suck hardcore. Thankfully I don't use products like Facebook so I won't have to worry about them siphoning my data directly on my iPhone but there's no doubt they and other companies going to move to a 3rd-party store or create their own so they can do whatever they want. Put lead in products, take user's data, w/e, and in the end nothing of value will actually be gained. Netflix and Facebook and whoever will make more money because they won't have to pay Apple to use the iPhone platform. You're just pitting some billion dollar corporations versus others and siding with some over others. You'll have this principled freedom of a worse experience of adware, malware, and scummy user-hostile behavior.


> Ok so who do I turn to when I only want a curated App Store from Apple on my iPhone

You do realise that if the rights of the consumers are upheld, as many are advocating for, you could use whatever app store you want, right?


Because good luck finding an Android phone that is usable without Google. It's doable, but it requires specific phones and a lot of knowledge / time.


Bezos' phone was trojaned with malware, supposedly using a mp4 video file and WhatsApp, despite being an iPhone which doesn't allow sideloading.

https://www.wired.com/story/bezos-phone-hack-mbs-saudi-arabi...


It’s a perfectly valid point in general, but most of us aren’t up against state actors, who seem capable of getting into any target.


While not against state actors, if you're a U.S. resident/citizen, you're still actively being spied on regardless.


> But but but malware! People love these shiny handcuffs imposed on them, because they keep them safe from harming themselves!

It's less about harming yourself and more about harming your phone. This is your personal emergency lifeline device. It cannot go down. I know they do, but my point is that everything about the software experience should tend towards 100% uptime. This is key. It's more important than almost any other aspect of the device. It's way more important on mobile than it is on a desktop.

If your desktop locks up, you can hit reboot and make a tea, or go chat to your boss.

If your mobile locks up, you might stay buried in that avalanche longer than is healthy.


You're making it seem like it's a travesty that Apple doesn't allow you to do whatever you want with your phone, but you're dodging everyone who correctly points out that Apple is far and away in the minority of smartphones in the world. People who want to run whatever they want on a mobile device have their choice: they can buy Android phones and sideload APKs, or buy experimental cutting edge devices running Linux. If anything, the example you cite - that of Apple removing apps in Russia or China - should be in your favour: if people in Russia and China want to run apps without their Government's approval, they should not buy iPhones, thereby hurting Apple's position in the market. Those who don't clearly don't care, and who are you to decide what they should care about?


People in Russia trusted Apple to allow apps to run when they were buying the phones, but THEN found out that Apple decided to cooperate with Putin and removed certain apps they were using.

It IS a travesty. Apple didn't advertise beforehand that they would cooperate with dictators and block apps which dictators don't like.


Were people in Russia hoping that Apple would pull out entirely, or that they should have the power to contend with Russia?

If Apple pulled out entirely, people in Russia still wouldn't have their smart voting app. If Apple resisted the Russian government, they would've been banned. And you still wouldn't have your smart voting app. Do people imagine a world where Apple has the power to forcefully ask the Russian government to yield on their domestic affairs?


If apple wouldn't insist on controlling what users are allowed to run on the devices that apple sold to them, users wouldn't have this problem.

Seriously, Apple acts as if still owns the devices after selling them. If that's so, maybe they should refund the devices to users and honestly call such devices 'rented'? It is perfectly understandable why you can't install the music system of your choice on a rented car. Not quite understandable if you bought that car.


Are you still arguing on behalf of the Russian people? Putin has arrested Navalny and is branding him a terrorist, and Google employees were also threatened with arrest. Imagining that Apple or Google can make Putin budge on matters of Russian political liberty is fantasy.


Well, I'm Russian, so why wouldn't I argue on behalf of Russian people?

What you say about 'google employees threatened with arrest' is pure bullshit. On the voting app was removed from the Google Play, but everyone who were interested (me included) installed that app directly. No Google employees were arrested for that.

If Apple allowed the same functionality, nothing would happen to their employees, and their users would benefit. I know many Apple users who were quite outraged with Apple's actions, but were forced to comply.

So YOU are bargaining on behalf of Putin, to keep the user-hostile Apple policy that is so beneficial to him.


> What you say about 'google employees threatened with arrest' is pure bullshit.

> The decisions came after Russian authorities, who claim the app is illegal, threatened to prosecute local employees of Apple and Google — a sharp escalation in the Kremlin’s campaign to rein in the country’s largely uncensored internet. A person familiar with Google’s decision said the authorities had named specific individuals who would face prosecution, prompting it to remove the app.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/world/europe/russia-naval...


That's just a sensationalised version of what happened in the reality (bullshit). Russian political coercement doesn't work like that.

Source: I'm Russian and i know pretty much about these things. I was detained at protests against Putin and the service I run is blocked in Russia.

And you failed to address the fact that Android users could use the app just fine via direct install, and NO Google employees were arrested. But no iOS users could use the app, and that is the result of Apple pathetic policy to control and restrict devices after selling them.


so there is a phone that allows you to direct install why not buy a phone that fits your need then

and since your breaking the law installing a illegal app why not just jail break the iphone for side loads


Those people in Russia can happily sell their iPhones and get Androids instead - it's not like you pick "iOS or Android" when you're born and have to stick with that choice forever.


> Those people in Russia can happily sell their iPhones and get Androids instead

Why? Why should corporates have more rights than the consumers who pay for the device and rightly own it? It's not a choice when there is no choice at all in the first place!


> Russia or China where the Apple submits to government requests to remove certain apps - leaving their users unable to run them at all

If an iOS device doesn't support the software they want to run, why would they buy an iPhone? Would you also complain that you can't run Microsoft Word on a PS5?


Because advertising has convinced people that's better to be cool and have an iPhone than have all of the apps they want.


> But but but malware!

It's a very valid statement, yet you make it sound like sarcasm.

Consumer can makes choice by choosing platform after all (even niche Android distributions if you are after freedom). Ofcourse apple may be too tight by requiring to even identify test devices when you develop apps and no option to install .apk like on Android.


It is not a valid statement. The ones who are afraid of malware might stay within the confines of the AppStore. Why do they think that everybody else should not have the freedom to run whatever the apps they want on their devices?

Until the apple lifts off these restrictions, users of iOS devices can not be considered device owners: they are merely renting it from a true owner (Apple), who decides which apps are allowed to run on these devices.


Imagine a phone virus that jumped from phone to phone over WiFi or BlueTooth and keylogged and screen grabbed everything. Imagine mobile ransomware.

If the OS is hackable - and they always are, without strong security - all kinds of nasty things become possible.

I do think devs should get a bit more freedom on iOS for testing, but the consumer side is fine as it is. I remember the virus wars of late 90s and early 2000s when you couldn't do anything on a Windows PC without worrying that it was going to be hacked - and most were.

There were email vectors, web vectors, PDF vectors, Office macro vectors, banner ad vectors, even antivirus software vectors. It was a complete shit show.

The hacking back then was relatively harmless. But now that people run their entire lives from these devices, the modern equivalent would be an economic disaster.


How do you know that an iOS app doesn't do this exact thing? A curated app store cannot prevent the exploitation of so-far undiscovered security holes in the operating system.

Sandboxing is a technological problem, while app store monopolies are a social problem, those two problems must be separated from each other first before they can be fixed effectively.


Living in a free society necessarily entails a certain amount of risk. Leaving it to the megacorps alone to determine where the line between risk avoidance and freedom should be is at the very least undemocratic.


> I do think devs should get a bit more freedom on iOS for testing, but the consumer side is fine as it is.

Fine as it is? Show me how to launch Signal app on an iPhone sold in China?


> > But but but malware!

> It's a very valid statement

No. Perhaps it would be a valid statement if Apple and Google were held accountable for failing to protect the consumer here.


Except time and time again Google and Apple have proven themselves incapable of preventing malware from getting on their stores.


> Why can't installing software on mobiles work exactly like on desktop?

I don't understand, you just tap an APK file and hit "install". Is that really different? You need to click a single button to allow the file explorer/browser app to show the install popups, but that's it. Just don't buy an iPhone if you want control over your phone.

If you want to get fancier, get an alternative store like F-Droid or one of its competitors. XDA-Developers once had its own app store built right into their forum app.

The reality is that Apple has been badmouthing installing software as "sideloading" and convinced their customer base that if software doesn't come from their store, it's obviously evil and malicious. Google has ridden the app store wave, not saying much but certainly not speaking out against Apple.

Now they've managed to condition users that installing apps using alternative methods is either bad or complicated, so the end user doesn't want to do it. That's a problem between you and your end user, and I don't think there's a good solution for that.

I certainly don't think Android should remove the security popup for installing downloaded APK files because malicious ads would start smuggling apps onto your phone like crazy. The button "allow this app to install other apps" is fine to me, as is the popup that says "are you sure you want to install <x>".


dont forget the amount of times google had to remove malware infected apps from the play store cause they barely screen them


Yeah and the worst thing about this is that if anything, the trend is towards having less ownership rights on the desktop as well. Windows 11 and newer mac OS versions make it harder to run arbitrary software, under the guise of security.

A legal battle around securing the rights of ownership is severely needed in the 21st century, the same way the creation of the EPA and workers rights legislation were needed in the 20th.


"under the guise of security"

Security is a tradeoff between freedom/convenience and safety. This is true outside of desktop OS as well.

The reason there is a trend to having less rights and more security on the desktop is because of the rising cost of getting hacked. So unless you have a better solution, organizations and consumers will all advocate for more security and less freedom.


I think the solution is a better access control model for operating systems. If applications are sandboxed effectively, and users are asked to opt in to specific permissions in a granular way, the risk is not so high.

To paint an example, as a default an a process should only have access to its own memory, and maybe a sandboxed directory in the filesystem. If the process wants to access the network, or access other directories, it should ask me as the user permission before it can do so.

You could then imagine extending this through a federated trust model. I.e. if I as a user don't want to bother with granting fine grained permissions each time, I could give blanket trust to all applications verified by a given source. This could be for instance a 3rd party app store, or something like a package manager, which I trust to vet the applications which it hosts.

There are always going to be challenges with security, but the solution cannot be that 3 corporations get to unilaterally decide which code is allowed to be executed.


I'm not sure. On Android phones you can still install any third party android app just by installing its apk.


> Apple and Google transformed mobile into a poisonous experience.

On the other hand Apple and Google created mobile, as more than the built-in platform.

Before they arrived and nuked the whole scene getting third party software was browsing shifty sites for weird archives (leaving your CC details everywhere to pay for it) you’d then try to decompress on the phone, possibly sideloaded from a computer connection, and definitely never updated.

The experience for both installing and removing software was ridiculously dreadful and the waste of time immense.

The pre-appstore landscape was an experience in the sense of getting mauled by a bear being an experience.


The problem isn't curated app stores - those were great additions to the mobile ecosystem - but when there's only one app store allowed on the platform, especially when that app store is operated by the same company that owns the rest of the platform.


The pre-iPhone experience with a smart phone was to buy among a handful of company-offered apps like Solitaire. I am unaware of any 3rd-party software you could install to those early phones.

You could argue Apple just followed the "canned phone" approach but, later, decided to allow 3rd parties in as a marketing way to grow/differentiate the iPhone ecosystem.

I don't fault early-Apple in this regard.


I worked in smart phone/PDA support before the iPhone came out. I was actually working tier 2 for a Sprint call center vendor when the iPhone was announced. There was a ton of third party support. The big three at the time (this was in 2006) were Blackberry, Palm, and Windows Mobile. Blackberry didn't really have any third party software, but they got by with their BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) integration. Palm and Windows mobile both had lots of third party software available. I did a quick check to verify and Wikipedia says that Palm OS had over 50000 third party packages in 2008.

Apple, and later Google when Android got better (who remembers the pre 1.0 releases? They weren't great) changed the face of mobile, but they didn't invent smartphones, or the idea of a third party app ecosystem. They made it much better, but Apple didn't even originally support third party apps. Steve Jobs thought that everyone who wanted other types of apps would just use web apps, but that hasn't really happened due to a number of factors (partly OS manufacturers locking down which APIs are available, although I haven't worked on that side of development for a few years so it might have changed).

edit: I forgot about Symbian. I worked in the US and it wasn't really that common, at least I never talked with a customer that used it.


I trust your experience, I was smart-phone ignorant then. A coworker had some sort of smart phone though and the pickin's were slim. Maybe not a Palm/Windows mobile.


> I am unaware of any 3rd-party software you could install to those early phones.

There were lots on nokia, in part by necessity given how dreary S60 was (I remember having to install third party software in order to have an alarm, as well as opera mini because the built-in browser was unusable on edge).

But even “legit sites” looked like warez, not just because it was 2005 but also because there was basically no ecosystem so this was mostly lone devs doing their thing on the sly, and of course we had little graphical taste (as demonstrated by wielding nokias). And the install / update experience as I noted above was quite awful.


> Why can't installing software on mobiles work exactly like on desktop?

It can! https://puri.sm/products/librem-5


> Why can't installing software on mobiles work exactly like on desktop?

A naive explanation is because AT&T (the iPhone's first carrier).

Or rather more broadly, mobiles use the carrier's network and carriers did not want a repeat of demon-dialing, rampant computer viruses (etc.) taking down their network.


Wonder how someone could get this ruling applied to Google Play...

In other news, I spent some time this month implementing monthly billing subscriptions. Stripe was easy and I could rapidly test almost every scenario (cancellations, deferments, non payment,el etc). Apple and Google? Good luck, you basically have to test in production to figure out all the corner cases for your users.

As a solo dev, being able to choose my payment processor would let me focus on delivering real features and value instead of app store toil.


The big difference here is that Android doesn't mandate the use of the Play Store. You could as well serve an apk from your own website with no rules whatsoever. You could completely ignore the existence of Google if you so desire.


That's disingenuous - 99.99% of Anrdoid users have no idea what an "APK" is. Sideloading might as well not exist - nobody but a tiny subset of nerds would even notice.


One might not know that's it's called an apk, but among non-tech people around me, it's a well-known fact that you can download Android apps through the browser and install them.

Also:

- The "Files by Google" app on my Pixel has the "apps" category, that opens a screen with 2 tabs, one of them is "app install files (APKs)"

- The "my files" app on my Galaxy S9 has the "installation files" category that says "APK" on the icon

So it's not like anyone is hiding the existence of apks from Android users.


I think you're wrong here. A reasonable chunk of android users seem to have at least one sideloaded app. Usually thats something like a "free spotify without ads" or "hacked snapchat so you can save screenshots".


And it's also when iOS users find out that they can't install arbitrary apps on their devices, not without jailbreaking.


I don't see what your point here is. Apple forces developers to do something. Google does not.

Information on alternative Android app stores is trivial to come across. They're just not very popular or worthwhile because Google isn't a crazed overbearing dictatorship like Apple. You can go implement whatever payment/notification/clone-of-stock-app/browser app you want and no one will stop you. IIRC, you don't even need to pay Google a yearly fee to be a developer, unlike Apple's greedy rent seeking.


Doesn't DJI force you to sideload? And for a time Fortnite did too so that's a huge chunk of people.


They have already done that in South Korea, in response to a new law, but in a way that I'd bet you're not happy with:

https://developers-kr.googleblog.com/2021/11/enabling-altern...

It seems likely that Apple will apply a similar strategy.


Seems like they still require Google Play billing as an option, so I wouldn't see any benefit here as I'd have to support all of the processors still.

Though if they're going to do that, at least let the devs show the prices to the user (e.g. I can charge ~12-27% less using Stripe). People can then "vote with their wallets" on which method is more convenient.


That's the thing: it would not be 12-27% less. Using another payment provider only chops off 4% points from Google's cut, the remaining 11-26% is considered a "service fee" unrelated to payments processing, and still has to be paid.

And it's what Apple will do as well.


Ah, I missed that at the bottom. That's quite the cut to distribute my 9MB APK.


> Google Play’s service fee covers more than simply payment processing

According to Google's blog post, the "service" fee helps to pay for the whole Android ecosystem, including core Android development, developer tools, the Google Play store, etc..

It makes sense they'd tax IAP since so many mobile games are "free to play" and otherwise Google would make much less money from Google Play (which is presumably its main revenue source for Android.)

It's similar to the "platform licensor" business model of game consoles, except that there are multiple hardware vendors.


Don't underestimate the value of having hundreds of millions of users using their apps and services for data collection/profiling purposes. Then there are the ads. And the constant nag screens/dialogs pushing their various paid services. I suspect they'd be doing just fine without the store revenue.

It's not like they got into the mobile business to collect fees from running an app store. That's just a nice bonus for them that's also been quite profitable.


The wording in the announcement is not very straightforward. So meaning, if I use Stripe, I will pay Stripe fee and also (reduced) Google Play fee?


Yes, google will charge a service fee for the use of their platform by taking a cut of every transaction, even ones not processed by them.

If we get a lawsuit that says “you can’t take a cut of every transaction” they’ll just charge a percentage of total revenue and audit developers, or find some other way of getting their cut. It is highly unlikely a path through lawmakers or courts is going to bring down apple and google’s cut. They’re running a platform and they’ve determined a price to be on that platform. They just happened to get that price through IAP, but they have many alternatives.


Laws can mandate a very rigid pricing structure for some services in many countries.

One example would be access to last mile internet cables and some insurances where profits are tightly regulated.

Lawmakers and regulartors could explicitly tell them what to charge (e.g. "at most x€ per gigabyte downloaded from the app store, at most x€ per store listing,..., No additional charges are allowed")

However, it's a very heavy handed measure and I'm not sure it will happen with mobile phone plattforms.


In my region last mile access for ADSL operators is enshrined in law, as well as how much the network owner can charge them for that last mile access, and in practice what they charge them is around 30%.

I am pessimistic of a legal path to reducing the 30% take. You would have to get a court or lawmaker agree it is onerous, and I think reasonable people can disagree on whether that cut is indeed onerous.


https://m.etnews.com/20211109000278

Apple explicitly refused to change their policy (with Tim Cook saying their board that Apple shouldn't lose out to the new law) and insisted that they're already complying the new law. Which is a blatant challenge to the government of course.


This sounds like what Apple would have written.


Does allowing side loading app stores avoid this?


I thought Google allows to link to other payment systems already?


I use revenuecat, makes it a lot easier


oh my god yes, IAP on Apple and GPlay are atrociously painful to implement.


Unless you can sideload apps, Apple will punish and reward based on whether they use Apple payments or not. They can just keep you in review purgatory every time there is a new release for example.


There was a video by linus tech tips recently that pointed out how ridiculous the term side loading is. It's installing not side loading and we've been doing it for years on windows and mac.

None of us would use Mac OS based laptops if they made it so that you could only install apps from the app store. But somehow installing apps from sources outside the iOS app store on iphones is a terrible and dangerous experience?


A true Orwellian word indeed.


Side loading as a term makes complete sense because you're using side channels to load it.

It doesn't have a negative connotation, it's an accurate term.


It's only accurate because they made the "non-side ways" loading the one true method. On Windows, Linux and Mac OS side loading is just called "installing", and it isn't demonized. There's good reasons to lock down by default for the "average" user, but making it impossible to escape that lock down without modifying your software elicitly is silly at best and deleterious at worst.


Side loading doesn't have a negative connotation?

Just a quick search on side loading and I see a million articles on how side loading only benefits criminals.

Meanwhile I just side loaded chrome on my new macbook, whoops.


"It is exceedingly complicated. There have to be guardrails and guidelines to protect children, to protect developers, to protect consumers"

I propose a heuristic that whenever 'protect children' gets used there's a high chance its a load of bull


Apple Pay does protect people. It's one of the most minimal-knowledge payment protocols out there, and if everyone in Target had used Apple Pay, then there would have never been that credit card leak scandal. Target wouldn't even have the information to leak.

I can only hope that Apple Pay is supplanted by something with more privacy and not less.


Also, we have to think if complying wouldn't benefit drug dealers.


I mean, that's all fun and games until your child chokes on toy with pieces that fit into their windpipe, or manage to drink bleach because we were sceptical about child-proof tops.


Apple arguing developers need to be protected from those same developers newfound ability to add links to external payment options.

That's... quite a take.


"There have to be guardrails and guidelines to protect children."

Why must everything be so boring and predictable?


Children could use less protection, to be honest. We barely give them any room to think for themselves.


Won't somebody PLEASE think for the children!


The web itself is free of restrictions it's kind of odd anyone could reasonably try to use those arguments.


What's unclear is is SafariViewController[0] qualifies as an external link under the ruling, or if it required the act of the foreground app changing to a browser app. From the ruling[1]:

> The Developer Agreement prohibits third party in-app purchasing systems other than Apple’s IAP. The Court did not enjoin that provision but rather enjoined the prohibition to communicate external alternatives and to allow links to those external sites.

I also wonder if just another app would work, eg. perhaps the shopify app[2] could be used as a payment broker in the future.

0: https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/800893255091879969/90...

1: https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.36...

2: https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/shop-package-order-tracker/id1...


Last year Apple made ~64 billion dollars from the App Store. Presumably this will decrease significantly if other payment options are possible, due to increased competition. Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/08/apples-app-store-had-gross-s...


Looks to be ~2/3 of the total profit yearly profit? Where is that profit going currently?


That's an estimated gross sales figure, not Apple's take of that or profit.


Apple takes 30% for the purchase of an app. Whether 30% is reasonable may be debatable, but that they get a cut is not (their App Store).

The post-purchase 30% cut amounts to adding or enabling content/function to the app post-purchase, meaning developers can put off charging users for some of the app until later, at which point it's fair for Apple to still get their cut - lest developers (like Epic) give away the app and effectively charge for the app later to bypass the 30% cut. E-books are, in a reasonable sense, part of Amazon's Kindle app. Movies are part of a video rental app. Power-ups and other features are part of the Fortnite app. As Apple is only charging for what is in essence part of an app, not for non-app stuff like chairs or rides or food, it's a not-unreasonable attempt to prevent developers from giving away apps and charging later to avoid the 30% App Store service charge.

Seems this is a moment that Apple, Google, and others really need to win, lest practically all apps be "free with in-app purchase to do anything meaningful".


> Whether 30% is reasonable may be debatable, but that they get a cut is not (their App Store).

It doesn't have to be a "cut". They could simply charge developers to host in their store. Because they started with this model doesn't mean it's the de-facto correct or moral option.

AWS doesn't charge for servers based on how much a company makes using their resources, they charge for the resources used. Why should Apple be any different?


Because one provides infrastructure as a service and the other is a two sided marketplace, completely different businesses.


But if they aren't providing payment services, it is a two-sided marketplace? Also doesn't this beg the question as to why a two-sided marketplace needs to charge developers this way.


It's still a two-sided marketplace regardless of payment services.

Two-sided marketplace can charge whatever it wants, it's their marketplace. They need to charge whatever they feel is right to make it worthwhile and provide enough value to both sides so that the marketplace can exist and grow.

Apple released their marketplace over a decade ago with 30% fee.

Developers ran away from Symbian, webOS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone and RIM to Android and iOS, thus proving that the charge is fair and the marketplace provides the right value for the cost to be part of it.

RIM, Nokia, Palm and others tried to do something similar, burned billions, but the market (via consumers and developers) has spoken, and those companies are now history and a part of business curriculum how innovation and changing the status quo can disrupt existing markets.

A decade later, after playing part in allowing Google/Apple duopoly to exist, developers now feel they have a basic human right to have access to a marketplace of billions consumers for free.


What the App Stores need to do is be competitive on their own terms.

i.e. the % cut they take for the non-trivial service of billing and all of the overhead, for marketing and distribution etc..

People use the App Stores as primary point of entry, they trust it, their CC's are in there, and they have volume.

All said, if there were other app stores allowed to play ball, Apple/G could probably charge 8-10% and people would pay it.

They could require that any app downloaded from their store use their billing service, that's reasonable.

These are platform monopolies, they're bad for everyone.

If the web were to have been controlled like this, it wouldn't remotely exist in it's current form.


And Apple puts a damper on the web. [1]

No web engine but their own:

> 2.5.6 Apps that browse the web must use the appropriate WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.

> 4.7.1 [...] only use capabilities available in a standard WebKit view (e.g. it must open and run natively in Safari without modifications or additional software); and use WebKit and JavaScript Core to run third-party software and should not attempt to extend or expose native platform APIs to third-party software;

No apps allowed to stream content not individually reviewed by the App Store, despite the lack of security risk that comes with streaming instead of installing outside apps:

> 4.9.1 Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps, appears on the user’s device, etc.

> 4.9.2 Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find the games on the App Store, provided that the app adheres to all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.

Blocking "side loading" of apps from the web, forcing streaming of apps to be shoehorned into the App Store individually, locking down all web functionality to Apple's implementation ...

Apple is not a fan of old and new web capabilities that compete with its App Store. This is a problem for general computing innovation.

[1] https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/


> lest practically all apps be "free with in-app purchase to do anything meaningful"

This is already the case with most apps? Everything is a demo, with a subscription IAP.


Then the up-front purchase cost is being relocated to later during use, and Apple fairly wants in on that.


Starting a year or so ago, for most developers, Apple takes 15%, not 30%.


I would assume that a large chuck of the revenue is generated by few highly successful developers, for which they continue to charge 30%


B-but those are corporations! You can't have empathy for anyone who revenues more than 1 million a year, right?


How many years of research does Apple require to check the consequences of allowing external payments?

> “You haven’t asked for additional time. You’ve asked for an injunction which would effectively take years,” she said. “You asked for an across-the-board stay which could take 3, 4, 5 years.”


We need to end these platform monopolies now.

When the electric companies own the grid and take a cut of the toaster because you're using 'their electricity' it's bad.

Separation of concerns is good for everyone in the long run.


One thing I haven't seen talked about much is the change to section 5.1.1 of the App Store Guidelines. While it is now allowed to contact users through other means (email) about alternative payment methods, Apple tries to limit apps from obtaining contact information in the first place.

See section (v) and (x) in 5.1.1: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#dat...


I've been more delibrate lately looking at how some services I am familiar with deal with the app store. It seems there are many businesses that make the app 'free' in the app store but require a login once installed. One example is Agworld. The login is only available if they are subscribed through the website. Clearly Apple have been allowing this for a while. I guess you just can't have a link for payment in the free app but its ok to ask people to login with some external credentials?


This article is continuing to spread FUD, the judge _explicitly_ said Apple is still entitled to it's 30% commission even payment took place outside the store for a digital good used in the game. Apple is still entitled to a 30% commission. The commission is the licensing fee for Apple's I

From the court ruling:

> At step three, Epic Games has identified no suitable less restrictive alternative for Apple’s use of IAP based on the current record. The only alternative that Epic Games proposes is that Apple be barred from restricting or deterring in any way “the use of in-app payment processors other than IAP.” This proposed alternative is deficient for several reasons:

> First, and most significant, as discussed in the findings of facts, IAP is the method by which Apple collects its licensing fee from developers for the use of Apple’s intellectual property.

> Even in the absence of IAP, Apple could still charge a commission on developers. It would simply be more difficult for Apple to collect that commission

> Indeed, while the Court finds no basis for the specific rate chosen by Apple (i.e., the 30% rate) based on the record, the Court still concludes that Apple is entitled to some compensation for use of its intellectual property.


What bothers me is that you can already avoid paying the 30% to Apple by using a 3rd party payment processor. You just can’t tell your customers about that option or link to it. So it’s not really a commission on buying digital goods or on use of the App Store. I get that Apple can come up with whatever arbitrary fee structure they want, but when it becomes so divorced from the value you’re actually getting in return it starts to feel pretty anti-competitive.


Apple had a firewall around telling customers about cheaper options because they only wanted to collect revenue between two easy-to-audit sources - app purchases and IAP.

Now, they will likely go after commissions to pay their commissions when they are collected externally.

This judge's ruling may wind up costing some developers a lot more money.


> you can already avoid paying the 30% to Apple by using a 3rd party payment processor. You just can’t tell your customers about that option or link to it.

Presumably Apple will now be highly motivated to close the loophole and require third party payment processors to pay a commission to Apple.


Maybe I missed it, but where does the article suggest otherwise? I don't see the FUD (and not how this would cause Fear, uncertainty and doubt either way)?


> the judge _explicitly_ said Apple is still entitled to it's 30% commission even payment took place outside the stor

Its a bit more complicated than that. For example, currently, right now, I can buy hearthstone packs/digital goods on other platforms, not pay Apple a Fee, and still use those digital goods on smart phones.

It is the existing workflow, that it is already possible, to get around apple's fee, by buying on other platforms. Thus, Apple would have to change its existing contracts, if it wants to get that cut.

And now it is simply going to be easier to get around paying apple that fee, due to external links to places where Apple is already not taking a cut.


You are misstating the ruling. It does not say that they are still entitled to the 30% commission, it says that they could choose to charge it for third party payments. The difference is that the former would be the judge saying that the existing contract entitles them to that (something the judge did not rule on), while the latter just means that they could legally make a contract that did entitle them to that.


It actually literally says that: "The Court concludes that Apple is entitled to some compensation for use of its intellectual property."


Yes, those words were said, but you are ignoring the context and assuming it means something that it does not. The broader context is that the judge is justifying why Apple's actions do not violate the Sherman Act. The immediate context is as follows:

> Indeed, while the Court finds no basis for the specific rate chosen by Apple (i.e., the 30% rate) based on the record, the Court still concludes that Apple is entitled to some compensation for use of its intellectual property. As established in the prior sections, see supra Facts §§ II.C., V.A.2.b., V.B.2.c., Apple is entitled to license its intellectual property for a fee, and to further guard against the uncompensated use of its intellectual property. [...]

The judge is not here determining that Apple is due any percentage of non-in-app purchases given the current contract, the judge is determining that (as far as the Sherman Act goes) apple is entitled to create a contract licensing it's intellectual property in that manner. Apart from the lack of any language finding such a contract exists, finding so would be wholly inappropriate given that it isn't a question on trial in the case.


Exactly. And it also points out how hard it would be for Apple to extract those fees, which conceivably would be difficult indeed.

Apple could just deny publishing your app if you didn't sign an agreement requiring you to pay 30% of your externally sourced revenue via your iOS app but the enforcement would now become (mostly) manual, whereas with IAP, compliance with the fees are unavoidable as they all go through Apple's software


Absolutely correct. The Verge and other media reporters continues to omit this important note from the ruling itself from [0]:

   Under all models, Apple would be entitled to a commission or licensing fee, even if IAP was optional [0] (p68)
Seems like The Verge loves to spin their way into misinformation since they know that the majority of readers won't read the ruling text at all. For those that don't have time, it's better to watch the Hoeg Law video explaining the ruling in full depth. [1]

[0] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21060631-apple-epic-...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43CMV8KIs3E


Let's say there is a website, google app and apple app. When user buys and uses digital tokens on a website, are both google and apple entitled to 30% commission just because there is a link to the website from both apps?


I primarily use Netflix on Windows 10. That's where I set up my PayPal etc.

So, if I sign on once to my Netflix account on my son's iPad, Apple would suddenly be entitled to a third of my fees?

(In case: What the actual foxtrot!).


Apple is not forbidden from changing their contract language to collect commissions for purchases made outside of IAP. It would require new developer agreements.


As a point of interest.. Apple requires new developer agreements rather frequently.

I had to accept a new set of agreements just a couple of days ago; they wouldn't sign any Mac packages until I'd done so. This happens about every three or four months on average, I'd estimate; package signing fails, so you have to log into Apple's developer site to find and sign the new agreements.

(I sell some cross-platform software. Not sold through any Apple stores, but I still need to sign the Mac app bundles in order for them to launch for Mac customers, by default)


I see from my post score that there are a number who hold their monopoly dear.

To clarify, my case was about accessing an existing Netflix subscription with a new device that happens to be an iPad, and wondering if Apple could claim a stake of my subscription fees from Netflix for this access.

If new developer agreements would need to be pushed out to allow for this, then that's something at least - however it's still disappointing the door has been left open. It will be interesting to see if they chase this option.

I'll looking to phase the iPad out of the household if so. (Not that a sample size of 1 matters to them, but principles do to me).


Apple attempts to maintain a position from the perspective of marketing toward customer acquisition and purchasing.

Back when Netflix was available with IAP, they were an excellent example of this. If you have a separate Netflix account already, Apple is not providing Netflix with any revenue value (with respect to customer acquisition) and makes nothing. If the user signs up through Apple, then that was a customer Netflix may have not gotten without Apple's store, and apple takes an ongoing commission.

The subscription pricing aligned with this, with a much higher percentage for the first year going to apple for the acquisition.

Things like the anti-steering provisions (you can't link to purchasing from within the app) are a double-edged sword:

- Developers who don't think they owe Apple 30% want to cut them out of the equation, both in terms of revenue and being an intermediary to their customer - Apple, who considers themselves owed 30% by contract, is more concerned keeping a clear line of which customers are acquired where

So if Apple sees their revenue at risk, they will start to change their rules. With the line smudged by regulation, they may change their rule to one of attribution and auditing.

For example, "if a customer signs up for an account or makes a purchase within two weeks of downloading the app, Apple is contractually obligated an X% cut of that revenue, and a developer may be periodically audited for compliance". One might imagine how the iOS 14+ Attribution API gets repurposed for this.

Or, they might just decide a lot of that is money from dark patterns anyway - they restrict certain payment patterns and we see a lot of slot machine games disappear overnight.

I look forward to the future lawsuit that causes the current executive email chains to be released to the public.


Interesting, thanks for that info and insight - appreciated.


Ever since I upgraded the Google billing API to the latest version a large % of IAPs fail (especially for users from 3rd world countries). Just wish I could offer CC, paypal etc. Let the user decide. Some users don't even have a Google Play payment method


Amazing, this is a huge win for consumers and developers.


It absolutely is not a win for anyone.

The in app payment system was exclusive (and advertising other payments forbidden) because IAP was how apple extracted their royalties for platform use by app developers.

This only changed the ability to freely link to external payment options. It does not require Apple to allow in-app payments, it does not forbid Apple from requiring a royalty/commission on those external payments.

So now the firewall is gone, and there could be really ugly fights where developers are told to prove they are in compliance with whatever commission scheme is coming. This could even result in Apple now extracting additional revenue from developers.


I think apple will have a difficult time justifying the same level commission if it is providing fewer services than it was before (payment processing). They can do it, of course, but I would expect that to invite additional lawsuits.


My cellphone provider still charges additional fees because the government mandated number portability back in 2003.

If Apple has higher costs getting their commission because of payments outside of the App Store, I would 100% expect they will pass that cost on to developers.


It's a win for me both as a consumer and as a business owner. Saying it's a win for nobody is not accurate.


It's a win potentially for third party payment processors. As a business owner (I'm assuming app developer) you have no guarantee of reduced overall impact to revenue.

To give Google as an example, they now charge an 11% commission on payments made using third party processors in South Korea.


No, not at all.

At the moment I can be sure that I can cancel a subscription without, for example, being required to call a US telephone number, as is the norm for subscription sites not using Apple.

It's a huge win for developers who want to fuck over consumers. Consumers? Not so much.


I fail to see how that changes anything. Apple has a good refund policy, but kids game on laptops too, and if they know your CC number, they can buy things on Fortnite on their laptops; the root problem is kids knowing your CC number. I don't see how Apple makes any difference.

Ease of cancellation? Right now, no big app (except games) uses IAP anyway, because they don't want to give 30% profits to Apple. So you already need to go to Netflix.com, Disney.com, Kindle.com to cancel subscriptions. Zero difference.

I just don't see what value Apple is adding here. Sure, friction means that you probably won't give your CC details to a 6$/year weather app subscription, but you be willing to buy it with IAP. But devs will still be able to provide IAPs, you know? And if they decide not to, you can just avoid those apps. What difference will it make in the average user's day?


I agree and it is an unpopular option on HN, but I think it is a feature that I know can use any app in the App Store without having to give out my email.

For me, the consumer choice is made when choosing whether I want that walled garden experience with iOS or a more flexible experience with Android.


I don't see anything stating apple can't require apple payments to be an option.


And I can do that without Apple, because California has laws for that.


Awesome for you. There are other 7.9 billion people in the world who don’t live in California. They’re consumers too who don’t want to be **ed by developers too.


Exactly. Should 7.9 billion people be forced to pay into Apple to save them from greedy developers? Apple isn't the only one who can enforce this; that's what their governments or competition are for.


Developers pay to Apple, not consumers.

There is an ongoing competition for the last 20 years, where we are today is the result of that competition.

Developers ran away from Symbian, webOS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone and RIM to Android and iOS.

Developers want to develop for platforms with great APIs, hardware and great distribution.

Consumers want to stick on platforms with active developers.

RIM, Nokia, Palm and others tried, burned billions, but the market (via consumers and developers) has spoken.

It’s no easy feat for new entrants (Google & Apple) to dethrone existing players sitting there for decades.

But they’ve done it and turned others into history and a business lesson about innovation and how changing the status quo can disrupt existing markets.


I don't think you understand the true cost apple is imposing on everyone involved in the ios ecosystem.

That 30% cut apple takes means you are paying 43% more for apps than you would have if apple didn't take their cut. I'd rather deal with a shitty subscription cancellation experience than pay 43% more money for something.

edit: also I reject the idea that using third party payment processors will result in a bad experience. 99% of apps will use paypal for payment processing and managing subscriptions on paypal is super easy.


And if the 30% commission is removed, the prices will remain exactly the same.


Not if you believe in the free market driving the prices down. If app A keeps the price the same, app B will undercut them because app A is charging 43% more than they now need to to make a profit.


Also if you believe lower prices attracts more customers. If I can keep the profit margins the same and charge customers less, that's still going to be an increase in sales and therefore more profits.


Because regulation coming in from multiple places, I suggest adding "US" to the title.


About time !!!!.


looks like bitcoin/lightning iaps coming to ios soon :)


This ruling does not allow for alternative IAP.


AAPL probably going down tomorrow




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