App Rules Are Twisted to Absurdity

Apps have turn out to be an enormous financial 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 might now 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 utilize your Amazon account to purchase an e-book from Kindle’s iPhone app. You can’t purchase an e-book within the Android model of the app. Till just lately, Kindle purchases had been successfully a no-go beneath Apple’s guidelines however superb beneath Google’s. Now it’s the alternative.

Complicated? Yep. Apple and Google have written lengthy, difficult pointers for apps and have ceaselessly 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? At the moment, 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 info and bank card particulars.

However shopping for different forms of digital subscriptions may be utterly completely different. If you buy a platinum membership to the courting service Tinder within the iPhone app, you’re successfully signing up with Apple, and Tinder is on the sidelines.

Apple takes a bit of that membership charge eternally. If you wish to stop, you inform Apple, not Tinder.

Shopping for a six-month membership by way of the Tinder app prices some individuals $14.99 a month, but it surely’s $13.50 if bought from the web site. (The value distinction is Tinder’s manner of partly recouping the up-to-30-percent charge 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 only in the Netherlands.

For now, paying for Tinder by way of its Android app is extra like how Patreon works. However that’s solely as a result of Match Group, Tinder’s mother or father 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’s 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, kind of can’t. It’s one other pretzel twist.

It took me hours of telephone 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 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 will obtain simply by way of their app shops and once they straight deal with purchases that we make by way of apps.

If we use an app to purchase stuff that exists in the actual world, resembling an Uber journey or a meal package subscription, these purchases bypass Apple and Google. The battle is over shopping for issues that we use digitally, resembling 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 financial system.

I’ve written earlier than about YouTube video creators who can’t perceive why Apple or Google is entitled to a bit of the cash — probably eternally — that their followers pay them by way of an app.

Within the Zoom-everything age, does it make sense to have completely different guidelines, as Apple sought to have, for, say, shopping for health club lessons to soak up particular person and people you’re taking nearly at residence? Why aren’t apps like Fb that become profitable from commercials handing a bit of income to Apple and Google, however people 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 minimize.

Once more, there’s 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. And so they 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 indignant governments and a few indignant builders however not others, the extra arbitrary their app retailer logic can appear.

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