Apple has delivered on its promise to allow certain developers to connect to their own websites from inside their applications. The new guidelines allow “reader applications” (apps that enable access to digital material, like Netflix, Kindle, or Spotify) to connect to their sites for account maintenance or creation.
This should help improve the user experience caused by Apple’s prior policies. Previously, if you downloaded the Netflix app but didn’t have an account, Netflix couldn’t provide you a link to establish one. Those without accounts found applications annoying, and developers who didn’t want to utilise Apple’s in-app payment mechanism (and lose 30% of their income) had to make it worse for prospective consumers. Now developers should be able to create a link to their website.
But developers can’t simply add a sign-up link to their app’s home screen and call it a day. To add an external link, you must first seek a “entitlement” from Apple’s developer support website. When referring a user to a developer’s site, Apple requires them to display a screen stating that any transactions will not be handled by Apple. They must also link to an Apple website explaining the dangers of sharing your data to a third-party developer.
Apple also has criteria for the connection itself. as in Opens in a browser, not in an app. Nothing else may be sent to the website. Your app can’t state “touch this button to join up for Netflix, beginning at $9.99 a month.” Apple will, of course, approve app updates before they go live. Likely there will be some teething pains when creators believe their product meets Apple’s criteria, but App Review disagrees.
Apple said that this modification will assist resolve a Japanese antimonopoly inquiry when it announced it in September 2021. The implementation specifics were vague at the time — Apple indicated developers could exchange “a single link.” According to Apple’s standards, you may only link consumers to one URL (no redirects or landing pages). You may utilise that link “once per app page” as long as it presents the same message.