Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

‘Reader’ Apps Will Be Allowed to Link Externally for Account Creation Beginning Next Year

I know that Apple announced some stuff about storing your driving license in the Wallet app today. But that has only been announced for two American states so far, and the chances of it being immediately relevant to me for the foreseeable future are slim.

Here is something that will apply to most users. Apple:

Apple today announced an update coming to the App Store that closes an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). The update will allow developers of “reader” apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account. While the agreement was made with the JFTC, Apple will apply this change globally to all reader apps on the store. Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.

Anyone who says that public pressure on government officials does not produce results must have really crappy officials or does not know how to apply pressure.

On its face, this is excellent news, though it is still limited. Apple’s definition of “reader” apps is media-centric, so it seems like this would preclude an app like Hey from offering a link to create a paid account on the web. It also does not apply to in-app purchases generally, so this would not resolve Apple’s dispute with Epic Games over Fortnite. But it should mean that Netflix and Spotify will be able to remove the error messages Apple has required to be vague. I see progress.

There is something else about this press release that I find fascinating. Last week, Apple settled a lawsuit in the U.S., which it referenced in today’s press release:

This update follows a number of changes to the App Store announced last week, which give developers more flexibility and resources to reach their customers, tailor their price points, and grow their businesses. Last week, Apple also launched the News Partner Program to support local journalism and help news organizations on the App Store.

There were, in fact, very few changes made last week. Apple said it would add more pricing tiers, it clarified some language — and that is about all. But Apple’s press release struck a triumphant tone that was smug even by the standards of a company that has just prevailed in a lawsuit, and completely disproportionate to the conditions of the settlement.

Today’s announcement is, as far as I can tell, a much bigger deal. But the press release is more sober — almost understated.