Friday, April 1, 2022

External Link for Reader Apps

Apple (Reddit):

With reader apps, people can sign in to their account created outside the app, letting them view and enjoy previously purchased media content or content subscriptions on their Apple device. If you’d like your reader app to also provide a link to your website where people can create and manage their account, learn about requesting the External Link Account Entitlement, usage guidelines, and implementation details.

In order to be eligible, your app must:

As the primary functionality of your app, provide one or more of the following digital content types; magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, or video.


Not offer in-app purchases on iOS or iPadOS while using the External Link Account Entitlement


Apple is developing a new External Link Account API that will provide the in-app modal sheet. Once this new API becomes available in a public release of iOS and iPadOS, you’ll have 30 days to adopt it with the next update of your app. In the meantime, you’ll need to build this modal sheet by following exactly the design specifications provided below.

Mitchell Clark:

This should help improve the historically bad user experience for these types of apps caused by Apple’s previous rules. Previously, if you downloaded the Netflix app but didn’t have an account, Netflix wasn’t allowed to give you a link to sign up or tell you where you could go to create an account. That made apps frustrating for users who didn’t have accounts and forced developers who didn’t want to use Apple’s in-app payment system (and give up 30 percent of their revenue) to make a worse experience for potential customers. Now, developers should at least be able to make a button that takes you to their website.

Kyle Howells:

Wow! You can now apply to Apple, for the potential opportunity, to tell your users that your website exists!

Can’t wait to see what such an innovative company comes up with next!

Nilay Patel:

Has there ever been clearer visual evidence that Apple thinks every interaction you have on an iPhone belongs to them

Adam Demasi:

I love the straight up false text that you’re “no longer transacting with Apple”, but, you never were transacting with Apple in the first place??

When will I be required to tap through one of these interstitials when I buy something in the Amazon app, or hail an Uber?

Michael Love:

Seems like it might work for Pleco if a) they approved it and b) I made a separate no-IAP version of Pleco to comply with their guidelines.

But I don’t know if it’s worth going to the trouble, particularly with the likelihood of legislation forcing them to go way beyond this.

Interestingly, there does not seem to be any prohibition on using Reader entitlements in paid apps, so if this does turn about to be all the opening we get out of Apple, one workaround I could consider would be to charge say $20 for Pleco-plus-features + sell content via a link.


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Wow! Entitlements and a modal sheet to link to a web site. Imagine if Safari had to do this. No longer transacting with Apple - naughty boy!

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