Apple updates its U.S. App Store rules: now supports external payment methods

Apple AppStore third-party app stores

After a long legal battle with Epic, Apple has now announced a series of adjustments to its App Store rules. This new update is to comply with the outcome of the Epic lawsuit. Apple has recently updated its U.S. App Store guidelines, allowing developers to link to third-party payment methods for in-app purchases. This change comes after the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal to reconsider a ruling in the Apple vs. Epic trial. The decision of the Supreme Court means that the ruling of the lower court stands. At the lower court, Apple is required toĀ discontinue its anti-steering rules. The new guidelines apply to iOS and iPadOS apps in the U.S. app stores. However, developers are still required to pay a commission for in-app purchases not made via Apple’s in-app purchase system.

Apple App Store rules

First, the App Store will allow U.S. developers to provide external payment methods for their apps in the future. This strategy has been implemented in some European countries and regions. Apple also confirmed that developers will still need to pay commissions even if users choose to conduct deals through other payment platforms. In terms of specific commissions, the commission for members of the App Store Small Business Program is 12%. However, other commissions are 27%.

Apple also mentioned that the rule applies to ā€œpurchases made within seven days of a user clicking a link,ā€. Also, the company said

ā€œApple reserves the right to review a developerā€™s accounting information to ensure compliance with its commission obligations and to charge interest and offset payments. Charging commissions in this way will bring additional costs to Apple and developers.”

Key Changes in the Apple App Store Rules

The updated guidelines introduce the StoreKit Purchase Link. This allows apps that offer in-app purchases in the iOS or iPadOS App Store in the United States to link to external websites for payment. Developers can apply for an entitlement that allows them to include buttons in their app to direct users to a website where they can make purchases. However, the app must also offer purchases through Apple’s in-app purchase system.

Though Apple allows developers to add external payment methods to their apps, the premise is that the app itself can also be used for deals through the Apple App Store in-app purchase system. Apple still does not allow developers to directly eliminate its in-app purchase system. Apple said

Developers may request that a link be included in their app to a website owned or maintained by the developer to enable the purchase of such items.

Subject to the rights agreement, the link may inform users where and how to purchase these in-app purchases, as well as the fact that these items may be available at relatively low prices.

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This right is limited to use in the US App Store for iOS or iPadOS.Ā In all other stores, apps and their metadata may not contain buttons, external links, or other calls-to-action that direct users to purchase mechanisms other than in-app purchases.

If your app engages in misleading marketing practices, scams, or fraud related to this right, your app will be removed from the App Store and you may be kicked out of the Developer Program by Apple.

App Store

According to Apple, this external link to the “alternative payment platform” can only be displayed on “an app page to which the end user navigates.” It can not appear on an intermediate page, modal page, or pop-up page. This means the link appears deep within the app. Also, it can only be restricted to “a dedicated location on this page” and “cannot extend beyond this page”.

Developer Requirements and Commission

Developers are required to submit monthly reports, even if they haven’t processed any deals. Apple also has the right to audit its records. The company will charge a commission on purchases made through the StoreKit Purchase Link. The commission will be 12% for developers who are a member of the App Store Small Business Program, and 27% for others.

Developer Reactions and Criticism

Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder and CEO, has criticized Apple’s updates to its policies, calling the 27% fee “anti-competitive” and highlighting what he calls the “scare screen” that users will see when they leave an app to go to an external payment platform. Epic has also announced its intention to challenge Apple’s Notice of Compliance Update in District Court.

App Store

In a series of posts Tuesday, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney called the Supreme Courtā€™s denial a ā€œsad outcome for developersā€Ā while also applauding the prospect of enabling consumers to see ā€œĀ better prices on the web.ā€


Apple’s update to its U.S. App Store guidelines is a significant concession for the company, which has long been criticized for its strict App Store rules. While the new guidelines allow developers to link to third-party payment methods, Apple still maintains tight control over payments and charges a commission on purchases made through the StoreKit Purchase Link. The update follows the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Apple and Epic’s appeals over the Epic Apple ruling, which required Apple to discontinue its anti-steering rules.

Author Bio

Efe Udin is a seasoned tech writer with over seven years of experience. He covers a wide range of topics in the tech industry from industry politics to mobile phone performance. From mobile phones to tablets, Efe has also kept a keen eye on the latest advancements and trends. He provides insightful analysis and reviews to inform and educate readers. Efe is very passionate about tech and covers interesting stories as well as offers solutions where possible.

Disclaimer: We may be compensated by some of the companies whose products we talk about, but our articles and reviews are always our honest opinions. For more details, you can check out our editorial guidelines and learn about how we use affiliate links.

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