In a surprise announcement late Thursday, Apple announced several changes to its App Store terms as part of the resolution of a class-action suit from U.S. developers. The agreement, which is pending court approval, identifies “seven key priorities shared by Apple and small developers” that will change several contentious terms that were being challenged in court.
The biggest change involves outside payments. While Apple isn’t allowing developers to offer their own payment methods inside iOS apps, it is allowing app makers to “use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app.” That means that iOS users who sign up for a free trial can be directly contacted by developers about outside payment methods without running afoul of the App Store terms.
Customers who make purchases outside the app won’t pay Apple the usual 15 percent or 30 percent cut. Apple and developers have agreed to maintain the fee in its current structure for at least the next three years. That includes a reduced commission for developers making less than $1 million in annual revenue.
Apple is also increasing the number of price points available to developers for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and paid apps to more than 500. There are currently than 100 price points to choose from. Apple has also agreed to continue to base Search results on “objective characteristics” such as the number of downloads, ratings, and relevance.
Among the other changes are:
- Apple has agreed to add content to the App Review website to help developers understand how the appeals process works.
- Apple agreed to create an annual transparency report based on App Store data, which it will share with developers.
- Apple will also establish a $100 million fund to assist small US developers who earn $1 million or less.
The motion for the settlement is available online as a downloadable PDF.