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App Rules Are Twisted to Absurdity


Apps have change into an enormous economy, but the principles that govern them are nearly unattainable to grasp.

Apple and Google have twisted their decade-old rules for his or her app stores like a pretzel to the purpose where they could now not make sense. This has made buying digital stuff in apps convoluted as heck.

One example: In theory, although not yet in point of fact, you need to use your Amazon account to purchase an e-book from Kindle’s iPhone app. You can not buy an e-book within the Android version of the app. Until recently, Kindle purchases were effectively a no-go under Apple’s rules but high-quality under Google’s. Now it’s the alternative.

Confusing? Yep. Apple and Google have written long, complicated guidelines for apps and have incessantly revised those rules to guard their very own interests. (I’ve noted before that Apple’s app rules are for much longer than america Structure.)

Want more zaniness? Today, it’s easy-peasy to pay to subscribe to a podcast in Patreon’s iPhone app. Apple stands aside and allows Patreon to take your personal information and bank card details.

But buying other varieties of digital subscriptions could be completely different. When you purchase a platinum membership to the dating service Tinder within the iPhone app, you’re effectively signing up with Apple, and Tinder is on the sidelines.

Apple takes a bit of that membership fee ceaselessly. If you need to quit, you tell Apple, not Tinder.

Buying a six-month membership through the Tinder app costs some people $14.99 a month, nevertheless it’s $13.50 if purchased from the web site. (The value difference is Tinder’s way of partly recouping the up-to-30-percent fee it pays Apple for every app purchase.) Oh, and paying to make use of dating apps might soon work more like paying for stuff in Patreon — but only within the Netherlands.

For now, paying for Tinder through its Android app is more like how Patreon works. But that’s only because Match Group, Tinder’s parent company, has sued Google to stop the corporate from changing its rules.


I could bore you with details of why Apple makes a distinction between buying a subscription from Patreon and buying one from Tinder. There may be logic behind why you may buy a paperback copy of “1984” from Amazon’s Android app but not the e-book edition, and why recent Netflix subscribers used to give you the option to enroll from its Android app but now can’t. Or, form of can’t. It’s one other pretzel twist.

It took me hours of phone calls and sleuthing to determine all the small print within the paragraphs you only read. If that’s the case many rules, exceptions and explanations are needed to purchase things from an app in 2022, perhaps the logic of the app economy is illogical.

For years, some corporations that make apps have griped about how Google and particularly Apple control many features of this economy. They each dictate which apps we are able to download easily through their app stores and after they directly handle purchases that we make through apps.

If we use an app to purchase stuff that exists in the true world, akin to an Uber ride or a meal kit subscription, those purchases bypass Apple and Google. The fight is over buying things that we use digitally, akin to a trinket utilized in a smartphone app game or a dating app subscription.

The issue is that distinctions that seemed sensible when Apple created its app storefront in 2008 don’t necessarily fit the trendy digital economy.

I’ve written before about YouTube video creators who can’t understand why Apple or Google is entitled to a bit of the cash — potentially ceaselessly — that their fans pay them through an app.

Within the Zoom-everything age, does it make sense to have different rules, as Apple sought to have, for, say, buying gym classes to absorb person and people you’re taking virtually at home? Why aren’t apps like Facebook that generate income from advertisements handing a bit of revenue to Apple and Google, but those who sell digital subscriptions are?

And the app rules often change, creating more complexity.

This month, Google put in place tighter restrictions so it must handle the purchases of more digital stuff in apps and take a cut.

Again, there’s some sense behind all of those pretzel twists. Apple and Google need to avoid letting major smartphone video games, the largest moneymakers in app worlds, bypass their regulations and charges. And so they say they try to answer complaints that they’ve an excessive amount of control or that they burden small businesses.

However the more concessions that Apple or Google make to mollify indignant governments and a few indignant developers but not others, the more arbitrary their app store logic can seem.

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