App Rules Are Twisted to Absurdity

Applications have become a huge economy, but it is almost impossible to understand the rules that govern them.

Apple and Google have twisted their decades-old rules for their App Stores like Pretzel where they no longer make sense. This has made the purchase of digital content in apps as confusing as a hack.

An example: In theory, though not yet in reality, you could use your Amazon account to purchase an e-book from the Kindle’s iPhone app. You cannot purchase e-books in the Android version of the app. Until recently, Kindle purchases were effectively no-go under Apple’s rules but penalized under Google’s rules. Now it is the opposite.

Confused? Yes. Apple and Google have written long, complex guidelines for apps and frequently amended those rules to protect their own interests. (I noticed earlier that Apple’s app rules are much longer than the constitution of the United States.)

Want more obscurity? Today, it’s easy to get paid to subscribe to podcasts in Patrion’s iPhone app. Apple stands by and allows Patreon to take your personal information and credit card details.

But buying other types of digital subscriptions can be completely different. If you buy a platinum membership for the dating service Tinder in the iPhone app, you are effectively signing up with Apple and Tinder is on the side.

Apple takes a portion of that membership fee forever. If you want to quit, tell Apple, not Tinder.

It costs some people ખરીદ 14.99 per month to purchase a six-month membership through the Tinder app, but ખરીદી 13.50 if purchased online. (The price difference is a way to partially recover up to the 30-percent fee Apple pays for each Tinder app purchase.) But only the Netherlands.

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

Deep breathing.

I can get you bored with the details of why Apple makes the difference between buying a subscription from Petron and buying one from Tinder. Why buy a paperback copy of “1984” from Amazon’s Android app but why buy an e-book edition and why new Netflix subscribers could sign up from its Android app but can’t now . Or, can’t sort. That’s another pretzel twist.

It took me hours to make phone calls and check to find out all the details in the paragraph you just read. If many rules, exceptions, and clarifications are needed to buy items from an app in 2022, perhaps the logic of the app economy is irrational.

Over the years, some of the companies that make apps have been at loggerheads over how Google and especially Apple handle many aspects of this economy. They both point out which apps we can easily download through their App Store and when they directly handle what we purchase through the apps.

If we use the app to purchase content that exists in the real world, such as an Uber ride or food kit subscription, those purchases bypass Apple and Google. The battle is over buying things we use digitally, such as a trinket used in a smartphone app game or a dating app subscription.

The problem is that the discrimination that seemed appropriate when Apple launched its app storefront in 2008 is not necessary for the modern digital economy.

I’ve written before about YouTube video makers who don’t understand why Apple or Google are entitled to a portion of the money – possibly forever – that their fans pay them through the app.

In the zoom-everything era, does Apple mean to have different rules for buying gym classes in person and taking them home virtually? Why don’t apps like Facebook that make money from ads give Apple and Google a share of the revenue, but those that sell digital subscriptions?

And application rules change frequently, creating more complexity.

This month, Google has tightened restrictions so it can control and cut purchases of more digital content in apps.

Again, this all means something behind the pretzel twist. Apple and Google, the biggest smartphone video gamers in the world, want to avoid bypassing their rules and fees. And they say they are trying to respond to complaints that they have too much control or that they are emphasizing small businesses.

But the more Apple or Google allows angry governments and some angry developers, but not others, to slow down, their app store logic seems more arbitrary.

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