Apple asks for permission for personalised ads, loosens grip on in-app payment links

Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.

Apple is making several changes to its app offerings. The iPhone maker will now ask permission from users to to enable Personalised Ads on its app store on the iOS 15. It will serve relevant ads on the app store through analysis of users’ habits on what they read, purchase, and search. The move mirrors what it seeks from its developers where they have to seek users’ permission with the debut of App Tracking Transparency.

(Read also: Apple said to eye more ad revenue via App Store ad inventory)

Meanwhile, it is also allowing developers of “reader” apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account and purchase content. Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.

This will now allow the likes of Spotify and Netflix to bypass Apple’s payment system and of course keep their share of revenue. However, the press statement did not say anything about gaming apps – which have been a point of contention for Apple. One of Apple’s biggest critics has been Epic Games, which has long accused Apple of monopolistic behavior in running the App Store and accused the iPhone maker for exploiting mobile apps due to high commission rate.

According to Apple, the change comes following a closure of an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). While the agreement was made with the JFTC, Apple will apply this change globally to all reader apps on the store. Previously, the App Store’s guidelines required developers to sell digital services and subscriptions using Apple’s in-app payment system. However, given developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase, Apple agreed with the JFTC to let developers of these apps share a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their account.

Before the change goes into effect in early 2022, Apple will update its guidelines and review process to make sure users of reader apps continue to have a safe experience on the App Store. Apple will also help developers of reader apps protect users when they link them to an external website to make purchases.

“Trust on the App Store is everything to us. The focus of the App Store is always to create a safe and secure experience for users, while helping them find and use great apps on the devices they love,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow who oversees the App Store.

“We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we’ve done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust.”

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