Apple Lightens Up on Restrictive Policies Regarding In-App Subscriptions

Apple has gone on a rampage of revisions this week, changing everything from its App Store review guidelines (and banning DUI checkpoint apps in the process) to its formerly restrictive in-app subscription policies.

In February, Apple introduced its App Store subscription service. And, at the time, it validated longstanding suspicions about how the company would ultimately handle the demand for publishers to provide subscription based content through the App Store.

In short, publishers of content-based applications could offer recurring billing, but they were strictly prohibited from providing external links to websites or any other digital territory where their content subscriptions are available. Apple required that all subscription payments go through the App Store’s new recurring billing option, which secures a 30% share of the cost for Apple but only when Apple is responsible for generating the new subscription.

The rules have now changed.

As it turns out, Apple is now allowing publishers to offer free subscriptions to apps, but only if those particular subscriptions are purchased outside of the app itself. Publishers, however, are still prohibited from sharing links or buttons that direct users to free subscriptions made available on external webpages.

Additionally, publishers are no longer mandated to sell subscriptions in their apps “at the same price or less.” Effectively loosening the reigns on this policy, Apple now says that publishers aren’t even required to have a purchase option. As a result, publishers no longer have to cough up the 30% revenue split Apple previously made incumbent on major brands in the realm of digital content.