App Guidelines Are Twisted to Absurdity

Apps have turn into an enormous economic system, however the guidelines that govern them are practically inconceivable 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 could now 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 should 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. Till lately, Kindle purchases had been successfully a no-go beneath Apple’s guidelines however wonderful beneath Google’s. Now it’s the other.

Complicated? Yep. Apple and Google have written lengthy, sophisticated tips for apps and have steadily 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? Immediately, 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 varieties of digital subscriptions may be utterly totally different. If you buy a platinum membership to the courting service Tinder within the iPhone app, you might be successfully signing up with Apple, and Tinder is on the sidelines.

Apple takes a piece of that membership payment without end. If you wish to stop, you inform Apple, not Tinder.

Shopping for a six-month membership by the Tinder app prices some individuals $14.99 a month, but it surely’s $13.50 if bought from the web site. (The worth distinction is Tinder’s manner of partly recouping the up-to-30-percent payment 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 dad or mum 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 may be 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, type of can’t. It’s one other pretzel twist.

It took me hours of cellphone calls and sleuthing to determine all the small print 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 economic system is illogical.

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

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

The issue is that distinctions that appeared wise when Apple created its app storefront in 2008 don’t essentially match the trendy digital economic 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 without end — 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 gymnasium courses to absorb particular person and people you are taking just about at residence? Why aren’t apps like Fb that earn money from commercials handing a piece of income to Apple and Google, however those who promote digital subscriptions are?

And the app guidelines usually 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 minimize.

Once more, there may be some sense behind all of those pretzel twists. Apple and Google need to keep away from letting main smartphone video video games, the most important moneymakers in app worlds, bypass their laws and costs. They usually say they’re making an attempt to answer 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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