App Rules Are Twisted to Absurdity

Apps have turn into an enormous financial system, however the guidelines that govern them are almost inconceivable to perceive.

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 concept, 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. Until not too long ago, Kindle purchases have been successfully a no-go beneath Apple’s guidelines however advantageous beneath Google’s. Now it is the alternative.

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

Want extra zaniness? Today, it is 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.

But shopping for different varieties 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 piece of that membership price ceaselessly. If you need to stop, you inform Apple, not Tinder.

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

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


I may struggle 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 buy 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 option to join from its Android app however now can’t. Or, type of cannot. It’s one other pretzel twist.

It took me hours of telephone calls and sleuthing to work out 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 facets of this financial system. They each dictate which apps we are able to obtain simply by way of their app shops and once they instantly deal with purchases that we make by way of apps.

If we use an app to purchase stuff that exists in the true world, reminiscent of 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, reminiscent of 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 do not essentially match the trendy digital financial system.

I’ve written earlier than about YouTube video creators who cannot perceive why Apple or Google is entitled to a piece of the cash – probably ceaselessly – 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 fitness center courses to absorb particular person and people you’re taking just about at residence? Why aren’t apps like Facebook that earn a living 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 reduce.

Again, 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 rules and charges. And they are saying they’re attempting 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 offended governments and a few offended builders however not others, the extra arbitrary their app retailer logic can appear.

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