Netflix has made a small tweak to its iOS app that will now take people from the app to the website to complete signing up for a subscription.
When tapping the new subscribe button in the Netflix app, a new window pops up informing people that they are going to an external website and will “no longer transact with Apple”, as first seen by 9to5 Mac (opens in new tab). The message adds that Apple will not be responsible for anything that happens to you on the streaming service. If you want a refund or are concerned about the security of the transaction, you will have to contact Netflix.
9to5 Mac reports that the change has rolled out across the world. We contacted Netflix and asked if they could confirm this. We will update this story if the platform comes back to us.
Changes in iOS
While it’s a small tweak, the updated Netflix app speaks to the changing iOS environment for developers and users alike. This shows that Apple is starting to be nice to developers as it eases its notoriously strict App Store rules. For the average consumer, subscribing to Netflix on iOS has never been easier.
Netflix used to allow people to directly subscribe to its service through the iOS app, but removed that option because of Apple’s policy of taking a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases. Also, Apple would not allow developers to add an external link to their website to avoid this hefty fee. Users had to first purchase a Netflix subscription separately and then download the Netflix app to stream. This wasn’t the most arduous task, but it added unnecessary extra steps.
What was once a strict rule, however, began to loosen.
Inside March 2022 (opens in new tab), Apple announced a policy adjustment that would allow “reader” apps to provide links to their own subscription pages. Apple’s new attitude is driven, in part, by the pressure to change. There is a new Dutch law, for example, that requires non-iOS payment options for people using dating apps in the Netherlands. similarly, South Korea has enacted a law in 2021 that allows developers to bypass Apple’s fee.
At first glance, it looks like Apple made the change to the reading app to avoid future headaches, but there’s one big omission.
Analysis: what about video games?
Apple’s App Store guidelines define a reader app (opens in new tab) as one that provides a certain type of digital content as its main function. Magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video apps fall under this umbrella, but not video games.
This omission was pointed out by Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney on Twitter (opens in new tab). He complained that how Netflix can now avoid “Apple’s 30 years [percent] App Tax”, why can’t video games? Epic Games sued Apple for 30% cut in 2020. The judge in the case ruled against Apple, apparently allowing developers (opens in new tab)to implement their own third-party payment systems to avoid the fee. The court decision paved the way for the March 2022 policy change, but games are still not included in the reading app definition.
We asked Apple if there are plans to extend external link support for video games so developers can avoid the fee. All we get in return are links to the reading app definition (opens in new tab). We then asked why video games are not included in the definition, but we have not yet received an answer.
By the way, if you’re interested in iOS video games, has a huge list of the best for 2022.