Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Apple's New App Store TOS Directly Targeting 'Steam Link'

On Monday, Apple released an update to their app policy in the wake of 'Steam Link' being removed from their app store, even after it was initially approved by Apple. Developed by Valve, 'Steam Link' would allow users to access their Steam dashboard from their phone. People could buy games, start updates on their home computers, even play games remotely from their phone. Apple wasn't having any of that since the app was free and the company would lose revenue from people not buying the products directly through the app store.

The new guidelines now state that apps can not look like or resemble the App Store within it, nor allow users to "browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user." But there is more! "[Apps] must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase." Apps that provide access to content that can be acquired elsewhere breaks Apple's TOS.

There are some problems with these new rules. Some apps still on the iTunes/App Store could be in violation. Amazon's app, for example, allows you to buy other apps, games, and music through their services, circumventing Apple's store. The app also allows you to review purchases you've made outside of the app and access them - such as Kindle eBooks. Given the push back from Apple over 'Steam Link,' shouldn't they be giving Amazon and similar apps the same treatment? One could argue that other apps from YouTube or Hulu present the same problem.

But Apple will hold it's position as long as it can. The 30% profit incentive from users making purchases through the App Store is enough for them to dig their heels in.

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