December 7, 2022

Apple makes it difficult to use alternative payment systems in apps • The Register

Apple’s idea of ​​complying with the law in the Netherlands offers a glimpse of what developers elsewhere should expect if regulators elsewhere succeed in challenging the company’s control of its iOS App Store. .

Apple is currently trying to fend off lawsuits and proposed legislation around the world that threaten its management of its iOS App Store. Third-party developers and lawmakers argue that iGiant’s oversight, through contractually enforced rules, is anti-competitive. They aim to relax some, if not all, of the company’s requirements, such as using only Apple’s built-in payment system.

Beyond payment processor flexibility, many third-party developers, especially those trying to compete with Apple, want iOS device owners to be able to choose to download apps — perhaps with the help of a third-party store, but without Apple’s permission and rent-seeking. .

Apple argued that sideloading — common on macOS — would be a security disaster. But he had to give ground.

In the United States, Epic Games’ legal challenge to dominance of Apple Stores is being considered by the federal appeals court while US lawmakers debate various bills that would limit Apple’s ability to dictate terms.

Elsewhere, authorities have moved to rein in Apple, despite their rules applying to thin markets. In August last year, South Korea passed a law banning Apple and Google from requiring app developers to use their respective internal payment systems. Last September, Japan’s Fair Trade Commission forced Apple to allow playback apps — apps that display previously purchased content outside of iOS — to include in-app links to external account setup features.

Double the Dutch

More recently, the Dutch Consumer and Market Authority has told Apple that it must allow third-party payment systems in dating apps.

Apple’s response did not please anyone. Popular Coder Marco Arment suggests Apple’s answer can be summed up in a single character: 🖕, the middle finger emoji.

“A recent order from the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will allow developers of dating apps on the Dutch App Store to use alternative payment processing options,” Apple said in a statement. a developer release posted last week. “These changes will compromise user experience and create new threats to user privacy and data security.

“We have appealed the ACM’s decision. In the meantime, we are required to make the mandatory changes and are today providing additional details that meet our legal obligations in the Netherlands while helping to protect users. against these increased risks.

To comply with the ACM ruling, Apple will charge a 27% commission on dating app transactions in the Netherlands, which for those who can find a payment processor that only charges 3% selling fee, will incur the same 30 per commission as Apple. charged for using its in-app purchase system.

App makers who do so will be responsible for collecting and paying applicable taxes, such as Dutch Value Added Tax (VAT), if their payment processor does not provide this service.

Google, in its Android ecosystem, is loading a 26% commission on in-app sales through third-party processors, to comply with South Korean law.

It’s getting worse. As Arment points out, iOS developers need to create a separate app that’s only for sale in the Netherlands. This unique app also cannot support Apple’s in-app purchase system and must have an in-app modal that warns, “Only purchases through the App Store are Apple Secured.”

All included web links must be declared in the application’s Info.plist file and cannot contain any query parameters. Apple is likely concerned about data exfiltration via URL requests. And developers using a third-party payment processor must file monthly reports with Apple listing every outside transaction and can be audited by Apple to ensure the company collects its commission.

no one feels the love

“You can just FEEL how [Apple despises] having to do all of that,” Arment observed, via Twitter. “They’re making non-App-Store payments as painful, expensive, and clumsy as regulators will tolerate.”

The Netherlands is not particularly tolerant of Apple’s approach. ACM Monday would have Apple has fined five million euros ($5.72 million), the third time in as many weeks, for failing to properly follow its rules. Two weeks ago, the ACM noted Apple will be fined each week until it meets its obligations, up to a maximum of 50 million euros ($57 million), or about five hours of profit based on 2021 results. ‘Apple.

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou, an app developer who sued Apple last year for unfairly dismissing its Apple Watch keyboard app FlickType, said The register that further resistance from Apple seems likely.

“I think we can expect Apple to continue to drag its feet, and both delay and mitigate the intended effects of these decisions,” he said. “However, I think Apple’s strategy will backfire, as it will speed up the process for regulators to determine how best to reign in Apple’s monopoly power in iOS app distribution and in-app payments. “

Eleftheriou argues that Apple’s efforts to maintain control of its App Store and to prevent sideloading of iOS apps are fundamentally dishonest. He points the finger at society macOS security page which describes how “applications from the App Store and the Internet can be installed worry-free”, as macOS’s Gatekeeper technology “ensures that all applications from the Internet have already been checked by Apple for any known malicious code” , and because Apple has the ability to disable malicious apps on macOS.

“Apple has had the technology and claims you can ‘worry-free’ load macOS since at least 2019, with some parts of that technology dating back to 2012,” he said, adding that Apple might even make the iOS security better than macOS because iOS offers fewer privilege escalation possibilities than desktop operating systems. ®