Under the terms of the agreement, Apple will allow developers to use communication methods such as email to notify customers of payment methods available outside of iOS apps, and increase the prices developers can offer for the apps. , in-app purchases and subscriptions. Apple also plans to create a $ 100 million small developer “fund” as part of the settlement, and it will publish annual transparency reports on the app review process.
Apple says the regulations will make the App Store an “even better business opportunity for developers” while maintaining the security of the App Store.
“From the start, the App Store has been an economic miracle; it is the safest and most trusted place for users to get applications, and an incredible business opportunity for developers to innovate, prosper and grow, ”said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow who oversees the ‘App Store. “We would like to thank the developers who have worked with us to achieve these agreements in support of the goals of the App Store and for the benefit of all of our users. “
To establish a settlement, Apple and the developers involved in the lawsuit reached an agreement that “identifies seven key priorities shared by Apple and small developers.” Apple will implement the following measures, as outlined in court documents:
- Apple will maintain the “App Store” for small business program in its current structure for the next three years. Companies earning less than $ 1 million per year will continue to pay a reduced 15% commission, while developers earning more than this goal will pay the standard 30% commission.
- App Store search results will continue to be based on objective characteristics such as downloads, star rating, text relevance, and user behavior signals. Apple will maintain the current “App Store” search system for at least three years.
- Apple will allow developers to use communications such as email to share information about payment methods available outside of their iOS apps. Developers will not pay Apple commission on purchases made outside of the app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and can opt out.
- Apple will increase the number of prices available to developers for subscriptions, in-app purchases and paid apps from under 100 to over 500. Developers had complained about the minimum price of $ 0.99 available in the App Store and the inability to offer price points not ending in $ 0.99, so this may change.
- Apple will retain the ability for developers to appeal an app rejection based on perceived unfair treatment. Apple will add content to the App Review website to help developers better understand the appeals process.
- Apple will create an annual transparency report based on App Store data, which will provide meaningful statistics on the app review process, including the number of apps rejected for different reasons, the number of customer and developer accounts. disabled, objective data about search queries and results. , and the number of apps deleted from the App Store.
- Apple pays developers $ 100 million to settle the lawsuit, and the money is distributed under a “Small Developer Assistance Fund”. Developers can claim between $ 250 and $ 30,000 depending on their historical participation in the App Store. Eligible developers must have earned $ 1 million or less through the US Storefront for all of their apps in each calendar year in which the developers had an account between June 4, 2015 and April 26, 2021, a figure that includes 99% of US developers. . More information will be provided at a later date, and there is a settlement website, but it is not working yet.
The class action lawsuit dates back to 2019 when a group of iOS developers accused Apple of using its monopoly on the App Store to impose “murderous” commissions. The lawsuit challenged the 30% reduction in Apple App Store sales and was largely resolved with the announcement in late 2020 of the App Store Small Business program that reduced the commission small developers must pay to 15%. .
The developers who filed the complaint were also unhappy with Apple’s $ 0.99 minimum purchase price for apps and in-app purchases, and they took issue with the $ 99 Apple developer fee.
Apple will implement these changes pending approval from Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who is overseeing the case. Rogers is also handling the ongoing Epic v. Apple.