Currently, the Apple App Store guidelines require all the developers to sell digital services and subscriptions using the company's in-app payment system. This means that the developers cannot redirect the users to an external website to make a purchase or manage their accounts. However, this is about to change. To close an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), Apple has agreed to allow the developers of "reader" apps to include an in-app link to an external website so users can make the payments or manage their accounts from there.
For those wondering, reader apps are the ones that offer previously purchased content or content subscription for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video. Some of the examples of reader apps include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Kindle.
Apple Will Soon Let Developers Add In-App Links, But It Will Be Limited Only to Reader Apps
While Apple agreed only with the JFTC, the company has decided to apply these changes globally for all the reader apps. This is likely done to prevent any more scrutiny from taking place in other countries. You can check out the statement made by Apple below.
Before the change goes into effect in early 2022, Apple will update its guidelines and review process to make sure users of reader apps continue to have a safe experience on the App Store. While in-app purchases through the App Store commerce system remain the safest and most trusted payment methods for users, Apple will also help developers of reader apps protect users when they link them to an external website to make purchases.
This recent change is coming soon after Apple relaxed the App Store guidelines that you can read more about here. It is too soon to tell just how far these changes are going to go but considering how Apple is willing to budget is definitely a good sign for many developers around the world. Here is hoping that these changes are positive for smaller developers who are more prone to issues.