Finally Apple Lets ‘Reader’ Apps Like Kindle, Netflix, And Spotify Link To Their Own Sites

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On Wednesday, Apple announced that certain developers would be able to connect out to their own websites from inside their applications, as promised. Developers of “reader applications,” like Netflix, Kindle, and Spotify, may now connect out to their own websites for account maintenance and creation under new regulations that take effect today.

Apple’s past restrictions on these sorts of applications have resulted in a poor user experience. After a while, Netflix couldn’t provide you a link to join up or tell you where you could go to sign up for Netflix. Now, Netflix can. For those who didn’t want to utilize Apple’s in-app payment mechanism (and forfeit 30% of their earnings), developers were obliged to build applications that were less usable for those without accounts. At the very least, developers should be allowed to create a link to their website.

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Adding a registration link on the main screen of an app isn’t enough for developers. You’ll need to obtain a “entitlement” from Apple before you can add an external link, according to their developer help website. When referring a user to a developer’s site, Apple requires that a notice noting that any transactions made will not be handled by the company be shown. That website must connect to an Apple page that describes the dangers of sharing your personal information to a third-party developer.

Apple also has a list of requirements that apply to the link itself. For example:

  • The link must open in a browser, not an in-app web view.
  • No additional data or parameters can be passed to the website.
  • Your app can’t contain text explaining how much things on your website will cost (for example, Netflix can’t say “tap this button to sign up for Netflix, starting at $9.99 a month”).

Apple will, of course, check all app updates before they go live. Software Review may disagree with developers who believe their app complies with Apple’s requirements, but history suggests there will be some growing pains.

During its September 2021 announcement, Apple said that this will conclude an antimonopoly inquiry in Japan. There was some confusion regarding what Apple meant when it suggested developers could share “a single link” in terms of implementation at the time. According to Apple’s new rules, you can only have one URL (which can’t be a redirect or a landing page) that you may lead customers to. The link may be used “once per app page,” providing it displays “the identical message in every case.

This is a rather small-scale modification, as we’ve already highlighted in earlier articles. To be qualified for the entitlement, an app must fulfill a comprehensive set of standards from Apple. In other words, this adjustment won’t assist Apple much in court, but it will at least make signing up for certain applications a bit less absurd.

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