App Guidelines Are Twisted to Absurdity

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Apps have develop into an enormous financial system, however the guidelines that govern them are practically unimaginable to grasp.

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

One instance: In concept, though not but in actuality, you need to use your Amazon account to purchase an e-book from Kindle’s iPhone app. You can not purchase an e-book within the Android model of the app. Until not too long ago, Kindle purchases had been successfully a no-go underneath Apple’s guidelines however fantastic underneath Google’s. Now it’s the other.

Confusing? Yep. Apple and Google have written lengthy, sophisticated pointers for apps and have regularly revised these guidelines to guard their very own pursuits. (I’ve famous earlier than that Apple’s app guidelines are much longer than the United States Constitution.)

Want extra zaniness? Today, 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 info and bank card particulars.

But shopping for different forms of digital subscriptions will be fully totally different. If you buy a platinum membership to the relationship service Tinder within the iPhone app, you’re successfully signing up with Apple, and Tinder is on the sidelines.

Apple takes a bit of that membership charge eternally. If you need to stop, you inform Apple, not Tinder.

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

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


I may bore you with particulars of why Apple makes a distinction between shopping for a subscription from Patreon and shopping for one from Tinder. There is 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 join from its Android app however now can’t. Or, form of can’t. It’s one other pretzel twist.

It took me hours of telephone calls and sleuthing to determine all the main points within the paragraphs you simply learn. If so 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 obtain simply by way of their app shops and after they straight deal with purchases that we make by way of apps.

If we use an app to purchase stuff that exists in the true world, similar to an Uber trip or a meal package subscription, these purchases bypass Apple and Google. The struggle is over shopping for issues that we use digitally, similar to a trinket utilized in a smartphone app recreation or a relationship app subscription.

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

I’ve written earlier than about YouTube video creators who can’t understand why Apple or Google is entitled to a bit of the cash — probably eternally — that their followers pay them by way of an app.

In the Zoom-everything age, does it make sense to have totally different guidelines, as Apple sought to have, for, say, shopping for gymnasium lessons to soak up particular person and people you’re taking nearly at house? Why aren’t apps like Facebook that generate income from ads handing a bit 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.

Again, there may be some sense behind all of those pretzel twists. Apple and Google want to avoid letting main smartphone video video games, the largest moneymakers in app worlds, bypass their laws and charges. And they are saying they’re making an attempt to reply to complaints that they’ve an excessive amount of management or that they burden small companies.

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

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Shira Ovide

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