Apple Plans Another Tweak to Its Strict App Store Rules

Apple said on Wednesday that it was adjusting its App Store policies to allow certain kinds of applications to do business more directly with their customers.

Under the change, so-called reader apps, which include Netflix and Spotify, will be permitted to include a link within their apps to direct users to set up or manage their accounts on the individual company’s website, rather than through the App Store.

That would let those companies avoid paying the traditional 30 percent fee that Apple charges when people make payments for things like subscriptions on the App Store. Apple had long prevented companies from steering their users to their own websites, which would have deprived it of that 30 percent cut. These reader apps “provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video,” according to the company.

Apple said the change related to an agreement with the Japanese Fair Trade Commission, which had been investigating the tech giant’s App Store policies.

Phil Schiller, the Apple executive who oversees the App Store, said in a statement that the change would “help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust.”

The tweak will take effect early next year. Apple has been under increasing pressure for its App Store rules.

Last week, the company announced a similar change as part of a legal settlement with app makers, and said it would create a $100 million fund for small app developers. Last year, Apple halved the fee that the smallest app developers pay through the App Store.

The company is also waiting on a judge’s decision in its antitrust legal battle against Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, which took Apple to court in May over claims that it abused its power over the App Store. If Epic wins, companies could avoid Apple’s commissions.

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