Apple has accepted a class agreement that allows app developers to implement payment systems outside the App Store and communicate directly with customers about them.
Previously, an app would be removed from the App Store if it went away from Apple̵
The settlement [PDF], which is currently awaiting approval by U.S. courts, will see Apple create revised anti-governance policies that allow developers to use communications, such as email, to share payment information outside the iOS app. Developers do not have to pay Apple commission for purchases made outside the app or App Store.
The settlement brings an end to a two-year class action lawsuit filed by approximately 67,000 developers whose apps were on the App Store market.
“The terms of the agreement will help make the App Store an even better business opportunity for developers, while maintaining the safe and reliable marketplace users love,” Apple said in a statement.
“This winning settlement will provide meaningful improvements for U.S. iOS developers who distribute their digital goods through the App Store, especially for the small developers who give so much creativity and energy to their work,” said plaintiffs’ legal representative Steve Berman.
If the settlement is approved, Apple will still retain its 30% commission structure in relation to purchases made in the App Store.
Over the next three years, however, the App Store will have a reduced commission fee of 15% for small businesses. The iPhone maker will also pay $ 100 million to small developers based in the United States, ranging from $ 250 to $ 30,000 based on the size of the developer as part of the settlement. Small businesses and developers are those who earn less than $ 1 million in annual revenue.
Apple did not clarify whether the reduced commission of 15% will continue to apply after the three-year period.
The iPhone maker has also agreed to publish an annual transparency report that includes statistics on the number of rejected apps and reasons for disabling customer and developer accounts, objective search and results data, and the number of apps removed from the App Store.
Other changes included in the settlement are an increase in the number of price points available to developers for subscriptions and in-app purchases as developers had complained about the $ 0.99 minimum price available in the App Store and new content on Apple’s review page, so the company’s review process and standards are more transparent.
The developer changes come hours after Apple announced that it would take a 15% cut in publishers’ purchases and subscriptions in the app if they join Apple News instead of the usual 30% commission fee.
The reduced commission fee for publishers is part of Apple’s News Partner Program, which will be available to publishers in Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The news partner program will be a separate addition to Apple’s regular agreement with app developers.
Following these recently announced changes, Apple continues to face various lawsuits from Epic Games. All of Epic Games’ lawsuits accuse Apple of engaging in anti-competitive and monopolistic practices due to its 30% commission fee structure. That trial in the United States has already been completed, and a verdict will be handed down later this year. The Australian lawsuit has meanwhile received a conditional trial date for November next year.
The legal spat between the companies arose last year when Fortnite was started by Apple and Google’s app stores to introduce a new payment system that bypasses the technology giants’ payment systems and purchase commissions in the app.