Apple again extends waiver for in-app purchasing requirement for online experiences

We'll know the pandemic is over when Apple starts insisting on its cut of fees for events again

If you're looking for a sign that the COVID-19 pandemic has eased and life is approaching normal, Apple has a bad omen: the fruity company has again extended viral relief to developers.

Apple has offered a smidgen of help since early 2020 by waiving App Store Review Guideline 3.1.1, which requires apps offering paid online group services to do so via in-app purchases.

By dropping that requirement, Apple reckoned it helped some businesses.

The waiver has was since been extended, and on Saturday Apple extended it again.

“Given the recent resurgence of COVID and its continued impact on in-person services, we’ve extended the most recent deadline to June 30, 2022,” said Apple in a canned statement.

The post reminds developers that one-to-one services like tutoring, medical consultations, real estate tours or fitness training can use whatever method they like to accept payments anyway, so this really just applies to group events.

Yet if June 30 is Apple's estimate of when other event formats won't need help, that's a tad ominous.

Apple has also extended the date in which apps in its Store must enable its users to initiate account deletion, citing implementation complexity. Previously the deadline for this functionality was January 31, 2022, but June 30, 2022 is the new deadline.

Apple’s had restructured a few of its fees since the pandemic began. In November 2020, it halved commission for developers making up to US$1M in sales via the App Store. While some may have cheered, others saw it as a thinly veiled attempt to please regulatory bodies without genuinely changing its fee structure or addressing its monopoly position.

Meanwhile in Korea, Apple has dragged its heels to comply an amendment to South Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act that prevents tech giants with dominant market positions from forcing their own payment method.

The amendment passed in September 2021, Google complied in November, while Apple argued it was already compliant. After some fines and persistence from Korea Communications Commission (KCC), Apple decided in January it was probably a good idea to comply.

As for when Apple policy for digital experiences will shift and developers will be required to use in-app purchasing, it may turn out a little bit like Groundhog day – the actual day, not the film. If the policy requires in-app purchases, it may signal there’s only six more weeks of COVID. ®

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