In Proposed Settlement, Apple Agrees to Allow Developers to Mention Other Purchase Options Outside of Apps


Following a productive dialogue, Apple and the plaintiffs in the Cameron et al v. Apple Inc. developer suit reached an agreement that identifies seven key priorities shared by Apple and small developers, which has been submitted to the judge presiding over the case for her approval.

This suit dates back to 2019. Among the priorities:

To give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers, Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out.

I wonder if this means App Review will be less strict if developers’ websites contain some non-in-app-purchase payment methods that may, somehow, be accessible inside their apps. I doubt it; the proposed settlement is narrow and precludes, for instance, the use of push notifications to mention external purchasing options. But developers are now permitted to contact users by the email they provided within the app and prompt them to subscribe elsewhere.

Apple also says that it will maintain the Small Business Program for at least three years, publish an annual report on App Review, and allow for more pricing tiers. It sounds like Apple’s concessions are pretty minor, especially since developers are still not allowed to mention alternative purchase avenues within apps.

Update: Hagens Berman, the law firm representing the class of iOS developers affected by this suit, clarifies that even the weak commitments Apple made only apply to U.S. developers. This settlement is a walkover for Apple and a sweet payday for the lawyers involved, but gives developers next to nothing.