Apple enables external link support in ‘reader’ apps

Home » Apple enables external link support in ‘reader’ apps
Apple enables external link support in ‘reader’ apps

After first announcing the news last fall, Apple has started accepting requests from developers of reader apps to allow the use of external links for customers to sign up and manage their accounts outside the App Store. Meanwhile, Apple has also changed its policy on dating apps in the Netherlands after coming under fire by Dutch regulators.

Apple shared the news in two Developer updates today. First up, here’s how it describes the new entitlement option for reader apps:

Starting today, with the update of App Store Review guideline 3.1.3(a), developers of reader apps can now request access to the External Link Account Entitlement. This entitlement lets reader apps link to a website that is owned or maintained by the developer, so that users can create or manage their account outside of the app. Reader apps are apps that provide one or more of the following digital content types — magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, or video — as the primary functionality of the app.

However, some stipulations here are that to be eligible for the entitlement, developers’ apps cannot offer in-app purchases on iOS or iPadOS or allow people to sign in to an account along with a couple of other requirements.

Developers can find the full documentation on requesting an external link entitlement on Apple’s Developer site here.

As for Apple’s changes to its policies on dating apps forced by regulators, Dutch developers can now:

1) continue using Apple’s in-app purchase system, 2) use a third-party payment system within the app, or 3) include an in-app link directing users to the developer’s website to complete a purchase.

The changes also include:

  • Removal of the Separate Binary Requirement: Apple is eliminating the requirement that developers of dating apps in the Netherlands who choose to use the above entitlements must create and use a separate binary. This change means that developers may include either entitlement in their existing dating app, but still must limit its use to the app in the Netherlands storefront and on devices running iOS or iPadOS.
  • Payment Service Provider Criteria: Apple is providing updated and more-specific criteria to evaluate non-Apple payment service providers that developers of dating apps in the Netherlands may use.
  • Consumer Disclosures: Apps that use either entitlement need to include an in-app modal sheet that explains to users that they’re going to make purchases through an external payment system, and the potential impact that choice could have on the user. Apple is adjusting the language on the modal sheet and reducing the number of times the sheet must be displayed.

Read all the specifics on the StoreKit external entitlement for dating apps in the Netherlands here.

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