App Rules Are Twisted to Absurdity

Apps have grow to be an enormous financial system, however the guidelines that govern them are almost unimaginable to know.

Apple and Google have twisted their decade-old guidelines for his or her app shops like a pretzel to the purpose the place they could not make sense. This has made shopping for digital stuff in apps convoluted as heck.

One instance: In principle, though not but in actuality, you need to use your Amazon account to purchase an e-book from Kindle’s iPhone app. You can’t purchase an e-book within the Android model of the app. Till just lately, Kindle purchases had been successfully a no-go below Apple’s guidelines however advantageous below Google’s. Now it’s the other.

Complicated? Yep. Apple and Google have written lengthy, difficult tips for apps and have ceaselessly revised these guidelines to guard their very own pursuits. (I’ve famous earlier than that Apple’s app guidelines are for much longer than the US Structure.)

Need extra zaniness? Right this moment, it’s easy-peasy to pay to subscribe to a podcast in Patreon’s iPhone app. Apple stands apart and permits Patreon to take your private data and bank card particulars.

However shopping for different kinds of digital subscriptions may be utterly totally different. If you buy a platinum membership to the courting service Tinder within the iPhone app, you’re successfully signing up with Apple, and Tinder is on the sidelines.

Apple takes a piece of that membership charge perpetually. If you wish to give up, you inform Apple, not Tinder.

Shopping for a six-month membership by the Tinder app prices some folks $14.99 a month, nevertheless it’s $13.50 if bought from the web site. (The value distinction is Tinder’s approach of partly recouping the up-to-30-percent charge it pays Apple for every app buy.) Oh, and paying to make use of courting apps may quickly work extra like paying for stuff in Patreon — however solely within the Netherlands.

For now, paying for Tinder by its Android app is extra like how Patreon works. However that’s solely as a result of Match Group, Tinder’s father or mother firm, has sued Google to cease the corporate from altering its guidelines.


I might bore you with particulars of why Apple makes a distinction between shopping for a subscription from Patreon and shopping for one from Tinder. There’s logic behind why you should purchase a paperback copy of “1984” from Amazon’s Android app however not the e-book version, and why new Netflix subscribers used to have the ability to enroll from its Android app however now can’t. Or, form of can’t. It’s one other pretzel twist.

It took me hours of cellphone calls and sleuthing to determine all the main points within the paragraphs you simply learn. If that’s the case many guidelines, exceptions and explanations are wanted to purchase issues from an app in 2022, maybe the logic of the app financial system is illogical.

For years, some corporations that make apps have griped about how Google and particularly Apple management many points of this financial system. They each dictate which apps we are able to download simply by their app shops and once they instantly deal with purchases that we make by apps.

If we use an app to purchase stuff that exists in the actual world, reminiscent of an Uber trip or a meal equipment subscription, these purchases bypass Apple and Google. The battle is over shopping for issues that we use digitally, reminiscent of a trinket utilized in a smartphone app sport or a courting app subscription.

The issue is that distinctions that appeared smart when Apple created its app storefront in 2008 don’t essentially match the trendy digital financial system.

I’ve written earlier than about YouTube video creators who can’t perceive why Apple or Google is entitled to a piece of the cash — doubtlessly perpetually — that their followers pay them by an app.

Within the Zoom-everything age, does it make sense to have totally different guidelines, as Apple sought to have, for, say, shopping for health club courses to absorb particular person and people you are taking nearly at residence? Why aren’t apps like Fb that become profitable from commercials handing a piece of income to Apple and Google, however those who promote digital subscriptions are?

And the app guidelines typically change, creating extra complexity.

This month, Google put in place tighter restrictions so it should deal with the purchases of extra digital stuff in apps and take a lower.

Once more, there’s some sense behind all of those pretzel twists. Apple and Google need to keep away from letting main smartphone video video games, the largest moneymakers in app worlds, bypass their rules and costs. They usually say they’re making an attempt to reply to complaints that they’ve an excessive amount of management or that they burden small companies.

However the extra concessions that Apple or Google make to mollify offended governments and a few offended builders however not others, the extra arbitrary their app retailer logic can appear.

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