Archive for January 18, 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Netflix and the Initial Apple Vision Pro Apps

Joe Rossignol:

Netflix has no plans to release an app for Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro headset, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Instead, the streaming service will be accessible through Safari and other web browsers on the headset.


Apple recently announced various video and sports apps that will be available on the Vision Pro at launch, including Disney+, Discovery+, Max, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, ESPN, MLB, NBA, and more. There is also MLS Season Pass in the Apple TV app.

Benjamin Mayo:

The Apple Vision Pro can run more than a million iPhone and iPad apps available in the App Store, in a compatibility mode where the apps appear as mini-windows in the user’s virtual space. However, developers can choose to opt out from this support. With today’s statement, Netflix has confirmed it is opting out, directing customers to access the Netflix website through the Safari web browser.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

Mac users sure do enjoy not being able to download Netflix movies or shows for offline viewing — you know, like in an airplane, one of the most obvious and common places where Vision Pro will be used.

Not having a native VisionOS app is one thing. Apparently having no current plans to make one is another. But it really feels like pure corporate spite — a pissing match — that Netflix is refusing the allow their iPad app to run on VisionOS.

Kyle Hughes:

The thing about watching stuff on the Vision Pro is that 95% of everything I watch, which isn’t background YouTube, is with my partner. Maybe twice a year I watch a movie alone on a plane. Gah!


Apple’s not even making all of its first party iPad apps compatible with visionOS, including iMovie. I don’t see any reason to think not making an app is malice. I mean the product’s not even out yet, and even if it’s a wild success it will have very few users because of supply. I don’t know why they would be feverishly rushing as if they were the ones who had something vested in the Vision Pro’s success or failure. That certainly doesn’t sound like something Apple would do for another company. Except for the iOS app store, a lot of Apple’s third party stores have been flops: the iPad textbooks boondoggle, the magazine subscription service that became Apple News, the iMessage App Store, and the Apple Watch App Store. Not everyone has to come running—or should want to—every time Apple rings a triangle bell.


question: is Netflix making its iPad app work on visionOS something they’d be doing for Apple, or something they’d be doing for their customers? […] When a company dis-aligns its interests from its customers’, they begin to enshittify.

Christina Warren:

I also understand not dedicating engineering resources (any of them) to a $3500 dev kit masked as a consumer product (it prob will be a consumer product but it won’t be at launch) at launch. Especially when the company who makes said dev kit has gone out of its way to undermine your business.


I’m not arguing this is a pro-consumer move, of course it isn’t. But Apple has through its own policies, continuously asserted that it and its platform matter more than the developers that make up said platform, as a way of getting devs to follow often arbitrary and capricious decisions. Netflix is a service and platform that does not need to kowtow to anyone.


I also fully expect that if Vision Pro develops a real audience and a real user base, Netflix will show up. But I don’t see the point in bending over backwards and wasting engineering resources this time. This isn’t 2010 and it isn’t the iPad.


And frankly, there are very few companies that can take this stance this way. I much prefer the Netflix method to the Epic method and Netflix has done this before[…]


Netflix doesn’t even have a Meta Quest app, you’re stuck to 480p in the browser on that headset. And they‘re not in a war with Meta, they just don’t care (about their customers wishes)

Dare Obasanjo:

I remember when Netflix was about being on any device, no matter how niche.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Perhaps indicative of a breakdown in developer relations, or just unwilling to blindly prop up a new platform after seeing the power it gave Apple last time round[…] Negotiating tactic, or are we going to see more of this? I can’t imagine a movie headset without Netflix.

Michael Love:

This “spite” talk ignores the fact that for a nascent market like headsets, Netflix might feel like it’s in their corporate interest for Apple to fail, in favor of a more developer-friendly company; whatever number of subscriptions they might lose is trivial compared to that long-term benefit.

Dare Obasanjo:

Apple has actually hurt their Vision Pro launch here with their greed since the lawsuit with Epic means there’s no Unreal for making AVP apps and now Unity is struggling so will be challenged to do a great job supporting a nascent spatial computing ecosystem. 😬

Jesse Squires:

Apple: repeatedly sabotages and deteriorates developer relations for years

Also Apple: “Will you please make apps for our new platform? Because we couldn’t be bothered to port any of our own apps.”

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Looking back at the WWDC presentation of Vision Pro, I realize Apple never did show the rest of its iWork apps running natively on the device. In fact Numbers is shown in emulated iPad mode.

Maybe Keynote is the only native visionOS port? 👀


It’s honestly a little worrying that Apple showed off native ports of Microsoft Office for visionOS, but its own Numbers app was run in iPad emulation mode. And this is what I don’t get about not having a launch event — …do you not have native versions of all your first-party apps to still show off? Is that just not happening?

Steve Troughton-Smith:

If one of the primary use cases, from the outset, for Vision Pro is plugged in at a desk, with mouse and keyboard[…] Was basing the OS on iPadOS the wrong choice? Will this give it a permanent impairment that hinders it longterm and relegates it to toy computer status for most people, just like its tablet ancestor?

Craig Hockenberry:

Regardless of the technical hurdles (sending lots of pixels back and forth), I see a bigger issue with logistics.

Do you really have to carry a Mac around to get real work done with Vision Pro? Apple’s refusal to open up the sandbox to be at a parity with the Mac is killing things for developers.

Folks working with spreadsheets and word processors will be fine, but as soon as your work involves more than one process you’re screwed. We have so many processes.

John Voorhees (Mastodon):

In planning our coverage at MacStories, we’ve already collected a list of over 50 apps from some of our favorite developers who have been hard at work on visionOS versions of their apps.


As it turns out, it’s possible to tell if a developer has opted out by using App Store API endpoints. So, with a little help, we built a shortcut to check some of the most popular apps on the App Store. We had heard through the grapevine that Spotify was showing that it would be available in compatibility mode several days ago but had flipped to unavailable on the Vision Pro, and sure enough, our shortcut confirms Spotify has opted out of offering its app on day one. Also, in testing the shortcut and fact-checking its results, we came across a Gist on GitHub that was last active last week and uses a similar approach to our shortcut but by using a Python script, which lends support to our findings.


What we found when we searched 46 of the most popular apps on the App Store is that as of today, none will be available on launch day as native apps, and just over one-third will be available in compatibility mode.

Adam Chandler:

Still withholding judgement until I use it but Vision Pro being M2 powered, lack WiFi 6E, have a small sample of “demo scenes” that are immersive, a non-usable keyboard and a strap system that is either too heavy, hard to seal or pinches your hair and only gets 2 hours battery isn’t looking good.

Definitely feels like a public beta and a product that really should only be purchased by developers creating content for it so the one for $1999 in 12 months is the real thing.

Dave Winer:

I’ve been wrong about many of Apple’s products, but not the ones that made the company -- the Apple II and Mac, though I was somewhat skeptical of the iPhone because I couldn’t write software for it, but I did get one on the day they came out in June 2007, and never used my Blackberry again. Anyway, the goggles they just started demoing to selected reporters and analysts looks like a product they released because they invested billions in it, had no idea what it’s used for, and were overlooking the ability of the human body to actually use such a thing, and couldn’t consider writing it off because so much had been made of this, esp since the current management has been coasting on innovation done by Steve Jobs, and hadn’t released anything that wasn’t completely predictable since his passing in 2011. Their lack of confidence in their own product overwhelms any positive reviews coming out from the privileged press, who we know in advance to discount, these are the press people Apple can count on to not say a negative word, to preserve their access at least, if not because they are complete fans. It reeks of a loser product. I write these things partially so I can be proven ridiculously wrong when I get one myself in two weeks and can’t believe all the things I can do with it.


Update (2024-01-23): Damien Petrilli:

So this is the best game Apple can show for their $4,000 headset

May be you shouldn’t have burnt the bridge with the gaming industry.

Mark Gurman and Ashley Carman (Hacker News):

Google’s YouTube and Spotify Technology SA, the world’s most popular video and music services, are joining Netflix Inc. in steering clear of Apple Inc.’s upcoming mixed-reality headset.

John Gruber:

YouTube is a surprise to me, and it’s a sign of how profoundly different the relationship is between Google and Apple today from the pre-Android era. In 2007, before third-party apps were even supported on iOS, YouTube was a built-in app on the original iPhone.


Entertainment is not the sole purpose of Vision Pro, but it’s a major one — and surely the primary one for many buyers — and it’s launching without the two biggest video entertainment apps in the world. Apple expected Netflix’s iPad app to be there on launch day.

Matt Birchler:

We didn’t get those videos before pre-orders, but Apple did post this video on their site today, and it’s exactly what I was hoping to see. I know different marketing messages work for different groups of people, but when there’s a new product category, I’m most engaged by drilling into the details of how you use the new thing.

Me, too, though I did not find the Guided Tour video very satisfying. It’s fine for what it is, but it still seems very surface level.

Victoria Song:

This is all well and good, but it’s strange to wear the headset and not actually know what’s happening on that front display — to not really have a sense of your appearance. And it’s even stranger that looking at people in the real world can cause them to appear, apparition-like, in the virtual world. The social cues of this thing are going to take a long while to sort out. Admittedly, it was all a whirlwind. I spent a half-hour like a kid gawping at an alien planet — even though I’d never left the couch. But by the end of my demo, I started to feel the weight of the headset bring me back to the real world. I’d been furrowing my brow, concentrating so hard, I felt the beginnings of a mild headache. That tension dissipated as soon as I took the headset off, but walking back out into Manhattan, I kept replaying the demo over in my head. I know what I just saw. I’m just still trying to see where it fits in the real world.

Nick Heer:

Even knowing all of this, I cannot help but feel Apple is redefining the personal computer in a way that has so far eluded other attempts from it and others. Perhaps the eventual Vision line will not entirely replace the Mac, but I could see that being the case for lots of people, not just those who would also find an iPad or an iPhone an acceptable working device. Most of us have jobs that could benefit from having more space, even if we are just spending time in spreadsheets or building an email campaign. Putting a development window and a browser window side-by-side on my 27-inch iMac is workable but cramped. I am imagining how great it could be if I could put those windows all around me, plus more for different browser widths. A desktop projected across an entire field of vision is, in theory, more capable and more elegant than multiple monitors, especially if there is no discernible loss of quality.

At least, that is how it appears from the outside looking in. I have not even glanced at a Vision Pro in person, let alone spent time with one. (That is why this post is titled “Vision Curious”, not “Vision Pro Impressions”.) But it is not hard to see an ambitious roadmap: to one day augment or even replace the Mac with something simultaneously more expansive and more portable.


Hold on, though; here is the catch: while Apple says the Vision Pro is capable of displaying a MacOS environment as a 4K display within the virtual environment, VisionOS is based on iPadOS. Given the system’s design and the way one navigates within it, this is not a surprise. Yet, here I am, already questioning whether VisionOS will be able to keep Safari tabs in memory or if it will reload them after using other applications, like iPadOS has always done. Can Photos in VisionOS create Smart Albums? Heck — can it even display Smart Albums?

Update (2024-01-30): Ben Thompson (Hacker News):

That description of the iTunes Music Store is perhaps a touch cynical, but it is impossible to ignore the importance of music piracy in Apple’s original deal with the record labels. Apple was able to make a deal in part because it was offering the carrot of increased digital revenue, but it was certainly aided by the stick of piracy obliterating CD sales.


This period of the App Store didn’t require any sticks: the capability of the iPhone was carrot enough, and, over the next few years, as the iPhone exploded in popularity, the market opportunity afforded by the App Store proved even more attractive.


Apple may be unhappy that Netflix viewers have to go to the Netflix website to watch the service on the Vision Pro (and thus can’t download shows for watching offline, like on a plane); Netflix might well point out that that going to the web is exactly what Apple makes Netflix customers do to sign up for the service.


This is the consequence of fashioning App Store policies as a stick: until there is a carrot of a massive user base, it’s hard to see why developers of any size would be particularly motivated to build experiences for the Vision Pro, which will make it that much more difficult to attract said massive user base.

Wesley Hilliard (Hacker News, MacRumors):

The Netflix CEO Greg Peters was asked about this decision during an interview held by Stratechery, and his reply was expected. Simply, Apple Vision Pro is too small a market and wouldn’t yield a return for the effort.

Basic Apple Guy:

The question of what and how I will use Vision Pro remains my most significant unanswered area regarding this product.

When I look at the available apps, I struggle to distinguish why someone would go to Vision Pro over a Mac, iPad, or iPhone. I consider factors like comfort, speed, features, enjoyment, and convenience when deciding what product to use for what purpose.

Craig Hockenberry:

It feels like we’re at a crossroads for platforms, but one that’s impossible to pass.


But you’ll still be carrying the Mac around to get any work done. Somewhat ironically, the Apple Vision Pro is not doing the heavy lifting, but it will be the thing that’s cumbersome in your daily life.

Here’s a comparison of the headset’s carrying case and a MacBook Air[…]

The Apple Vision Pro is almost 15 times taller than the MacBook Air. Even worse, I can’t even close my backpack, much less fit in a laptop[…]


This isn’t a sustainable situation for the next 40 years. Without some low-level structural changes in visionOS, it will never thrive as a developer platform. Just as the iPad has not.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

On the one hand, Apple is out on the forefront of a whole new set of technologies, and isn’t going to have viable competition for quite a while.

On the other hand, we’ve seen Apple struggle to innovate on platforms where it has no viable competition, or simply take its foot off the gas for far too long. A lost decade of the Mac, iPads that still can’t fulfill their potential 14 years on, and an Apple Watch that has had indistinguishable models (with the same CPU) for years at a time.

See also: Palmer Luckey, Reddit.


Update (2024-02-06): Brent Simmons:

I consider it risky to support an app running on a device I don’t own. […] Eventually the price will come down to where I’d consider buying one as a test device and for a little fun — but that may be a few years away. I’m hoping that we’ll find, sooner than that, that running as iPad on Vision Pro is a-okay.


Reminds me of one of my favourite old docs, Q&A OV01 “Test What You Ship”.

StoreKit Purchase Link Entitlement for United States


Starting today, because of a recent United States Court decision, App Store Review Guideline 3.1.1 has been updated to introduce the StoreKit Purchase Link Entitlement (US), which allows apps that offer in-app purchases in the iOS or iPadOS App Store on the United States storefront the ability to include a link to the developer’s website that informs users of other ways to purchase digital goods or services.


A commission will apply to digital purchases facilitated through the StoreKit Purchase Link Entitlement (US). For additional details on commissions, requesting the entitlement, usage guidelines, and implementation details, view our support page.


Apple has updated their App Store Review Guidelines to now allow apps in the United States, that offer in-app purchases, the ability to include a link to the developer’s website that informs users of other ways to purchase digital goods or services.

Juli Clover (Hacker News):

Apple is allowing apps to feature a single link to a developer website that leads to an in-app purchase alternative, but Apple plans to continue to collect a 12 to 27 percent commission on content bought this way.


Links cannot be placed directly on an in-app purchase screen or in the in-app purchase flow.


Apps that use the StoreKit External Purchase Link must continue to offer in-app purchases as an option.

App Store pages are not able to include information about purchasing on a website or a link to a website.


Links must open a new window in the default browser of the device, and are not able to open a web view.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Okay, sure, the company says, you can link to your website from your app, so consumers may know that there’s a cheaper way to buy your software, but if you do so, we will charge a 27%(!!!) commission on that link, require you to submit financial reports every few weeks(?!), will reserve the right to audit your books at any time(???!), AND hold the threat of expulsion from the App Store over your head, in case we find you to be out of compliance.

Change Miller:

The other anti-steering change that Apple is required to make is to allow developers to communicate with customers outside of their apps about alternative purchasing options, such as via email.

Tim Sweeney (Hacker News):

Developers can’t offer digital items more cheaply on the web after paying a third-party payment processor 3-6% and paying this new 27% Apple Tax.

2) Apple dictates all aspects of these links and doesn’t allow them in the app’s ordinary payment flow. Rather, links must be separated out into a different section of the app, away from places where users actually buy stuff.

3) Apple requires developers to open a generic web browser session, forcing the user to log in to the developer’s web site again, to make a purchase. And because of #2, users will have to search all over again for the digital item they wanted to buy.

4) Apple will front-run competing payment processors with their own “scare screen” to disadvantage them.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

They’re only demanding the commission from web sales that occur within 7 days of a user tapping through to the web from the new External Purchase Links entitlement in an app.


To be clear, I think Apple should allow apps other than games to just tell users they can pay/buy/subscribe/whatever on the web, without any commission. That the rules which have applied only to “reader” apps since early 2022 should be extended to all apps other than games, perhaps alongside a requirement (which doesn’t apply to “reader” apps) that apps taking advantage of this also offer in-app purchasing.

I don’t see why games should be singled out.

Ben Lovejoy:

One common point from those on Apple’s side was that games consoles apply the same rules as Apple. However, a key difference is that Sony and Microsoft sell their hardware at a loss in order to generate revenue from software. For console manufacturers, a hefty app commission is vital for their business model. Apple, in contrast, earns the highest hardware margins in the business.

Riley Testut:

Quite literally the smallest of wins, but still sad it took almost 4 years of litigation just to allow mentioning external payment systems in apps

Francisco Tolmasky:

LOL we went from the Web being the “Sweet Solution” to iOS apps to needing a fucking entitlement to “include a link in your app.”

Combined with the dryness of Swift, the Apple platform now feels like working with J2EE at some mega corp where you submit a bug fix & wait 3 months for bureaucratic approval.

John Gruber:

My argument remains that Apple should not be pursuing this plan for complying with the anti-steering injunction by collecting commissions from web sales that initiate in-app. Whatever revenue Apple would lose to non-commissioned web sales (for non-games) is not worth the hit they are taking to the company’s brand and reputation — this move reeks of greed and avarice — nor the increased ire and scrutiny of regulators and legislators on the “anti-Big-Tech” hunt.


Rather than take a sure win with most of what they could want, Apple is seemingly hell-bent on trying to keep everything.

And they’ve lost sight of the user experience. Now that external purchases are allowed, Apple is imposing requirements that deliberately make them hard to use and force businesses to add tracking.


Apple is making that link a landmine for developers and for users in terms of privacy. Say I click on the link for Spotify from the App Store. Then at any time during the next seven days, I sign up for Spotify over the web. Spotify is required to both have a mechanism for tracking me to know that I had clicked on the link from the App Store in the last 7 days Apple and to give Apple a ca. 30% cut regardless of whether I ever even use the Spotify service through the App Store. […] And then the warning language that the link may violate your privacy etc, when Apple is the one forcing the company to track where the traffic came from not just in that one instance but for at least the following seven days and then that Apple will be auditing that data.

Dare Obasanjo:

This is the same energy as Apple ATT.

Everything on this page is technically true but the entire subtext is Apple is scaring the user into buying the in-app purchase on their iPhone where they get a 30% cut instead of on the web when the developer has linked to their website.

Jamie Zawinski:

Apple just got their ass handed to them in a lawsuit, but their pettiness remains boundless.

Tyler Hall:

It’s exactly what we all knew Apple would do.


And yet, as I move on to reading John’s post about the new App Store guidelines, all I can think of is how modern-day Apple is one giant corporate contradiction. The same company that builds the technology to watch a movie in front of a Tatooine sunset is the same company removing all of the joy and fun out of the process of building that sunset.

Modern-day Apple is its own binary star. One fueled by creativity. And another fueled by arrogance.

John Gruber:

Apple’s 30/15 percent commissions from App Store purchases and subscriptions are not payment processing fees. They include payment processing fees, but most of those commissions are, in Apple’s view, their way of monetizing their intellectual property. And they see the entire iOS platform as their IP.

Since when? That was not Apple’s view with its previous platforms. It was not the way Steve Jobs explained things when announcing the App Store. It was not Phil Schiller’s view when he suggested reducing the commissions so as to keep App Store profits at $1 billion. It seems more like a backward justification to keep all the profits after the App Store exceeded expectations.

Colin Cornaby:

We’ve come a long way since the days of “we can only allow apps from the App Store for carrier network security and we’re not even doing this for the money.”

Dave B.:

I’m as big an Apple fan as there is, but Apple’s position here is ridiculous.

A) The ecosystem is locked down and curated to provide users with the best possible experience. The ‘Walled Garden’ exists to maintain a safe, consistent, well-designed UX for premium products.

B) Apple maintains the ecosystem and spends lots of time and money doing so, so of course they deserve a large cut of all commerce occurring within it.

Pick one.

You can’t have it both ways. A or B. Not both. They’re incompatible.


If the top concern was the privacy, safety and overall experience, the solution is straightforward[…]: institute rules that protect the customer.

Allow some leeway, but have a mechanism where if you act in a way that defrauds or misleads the customer, you are liable to be booted off the App Store. With this in place and effectively administered, there would be no point in attempting to mislead the customer. Whether an abuse of In-App Purchases, a particularly malodorous third-party payment system or just shifty behavior in general, it could be chalked up to the same offense. Or, to focus on the positives, an opportunity to throw down the gauntlet and focus on reasoned, respectful behavior, building a community of trust, providing the rising tide that lifts all boats.

Instead, the focus is on the enshrined axiomatic supremacy of whatever the Apple payment solution is. If you find it wanting, and want to do something else, tough noogies.


Instead, the focus is on the absence of trust, the framing of the developers who largely built the platform’s identity, humanity and success as rogue agents incapable of contributing productively.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Can you imagine if Google wanted 27% of any sales that resulted from anyone visiting your store after finding you in their search engine?? AND the right to audit your books to ensure they got their rake?? AND THE THREAT TO KICK YOU OFF GOOGLE IF YOU DIDN’T COMPLY? Nuts.

Francisco Tolmasky:

The message from Apple is clear: if you don’t want to pay Apple’s 30% tax, you should monetize your app through advertising.

Tom Gerken (via Hacker News):

Spotify has reacted with fury, saying the policy “flies in the face” of the US court’s attempt to enable greater competition.

“Once again, Apple has demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to protect the profits they exact on the backs of developers and consumers under their app store monopoly,” it said in a statement.


“We strongly urge UK lawmakers to pass the bill swiftly to prevent Apple from implementing similar fees, which will help create a more competitive and innovative tech industry for UK consumers and businesses.”

Brent Simmons (Mastodon):

Apple doesn’t care about you personally in the least tiny bit, and if you were in their way somehow, they would do whatever their might — effectively infinite compared to your own — enables them to deal with you.

Luckily, Apple has just provided us all with a reminder. Just like the sixth finger in an AI-rendered hand, Apple’s policies for Distributing apps in the U.S. that provide an external purchase link are startlingly graceless and a jarring, but not surprising, reminder that Apple is not a real person and not worthy of your love.

Craig Hockenberry:

Apple’s steadfast refusal to back down on anti-steering is burning a lot of bridges at all levels of the developer community.

John Gruber:

If Apple’s in-app purchasing system is so easy to use, so reasonably priced for its benefits, and so trusted by users, it should be able to compete openly with the web. And I think Apple’s in-app payments do compare favorably to leaving an app to pay on the web, especially for games. But with true competition from web purchases that apps can steer users to, Apple’s commission rates, for apps other than games at least, would probably be lower. I’d argue that it’s unhealthy for a company to grow dependent on unnaturally high commissions protected by fiat policies, rather than set through open competition.


Regardless of whether these anti-steering provisions are legally anticompetitive, they’re undeniably anticompetitive in the plain sense of the word. I genuinely believe the Supreme Court has done Apple a favor letting this ruling stand.

Colin Cornaby:

I think the big disappointment I had was that I was hoping that Apple would see the way the wind was going and make things easy for developers. Between the rumor that Apple is going to split the stores to prevent sideloading in the US, and the payment stuff, doesn’t seem that way.

I think worldwide governments are going to take a much dimmer view of locked down software and operating systems. Would be nice to see Apple lead the way in that new era.

Nick Heer:

I feel compelled to emphasize this one point: this is a U.S.-only capability.


Instead of one App Store around the world — with minor asterisks — there will now be different permissions depending on which geographically-restricted features a developer chooses to use. And Apple has created a bureaucracy to ensure it captures all the money it believes and has argued it is owed.

Craig Grannell:

only doing what’s forced, when there’s no other option, is not a great look. And devs already have a hard enough time. Fragmenting requirements in the multiple ‘app stores’ around the world seems like quite the destination.

Ian Betteridge:

Apple had a chance to turn a legal defeat into a long-term victory. With Google charging 26% in the same circumstances, the company could have adopted rules which dramatically reduced the levy it wants to take, say to 12% for all developers. This would have gained the company a lot of credibility over the long term.

But no. Instead, it chose to protect short-term revenue, and do something which looks petty, hostile to the developers who have made iOS a successful platform, and which will probably end up in court, again.

Ryan Jones:

So so sad they are going to force regulators to write our rules.


Those of us who lived through it look back on the Microsoft antitrust era of the late ’90s with particular distaste… future us will be looking back on Apple’s App Store shenanigans of the past decade the same way, likely with even more scorn.

Microsoft got in trouble for bundling their browser with the OS and for preventing resellers from pre-installing competing browsers. They never interfered with other companies making their apps available. Apple doesn’t let resellers pre-install apps and does prevent certain apps (including third-party browser engines) from even being available.

David Heinemeier Hansson (tweet):

But Microsoft’s brutish tactics also managed to turn an entire generation of developers against them. And the bill for that didn’t come due until Windows Phone. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted to lift a finger to help Microsoft gain a foothold in mobile. The wounds from the late 90s and early 2000s were still fresh in many developers minds. So many cheered as Apple went from underdog, favored by developers for their embrace of Unix roots in their operating system, to the dominant player on a new platform.

Microsoft has had to work hard to undo that poisoned relationship ever since, and under Satya Nadella, seems to have broadly succeeded in that mission. Microsoft is no longer developer’s enemy #1, Apple is.


Apple would be wise to study the long arc of Microsoft’s history. Learn that you can win the battle, say, against Epic, and end up losing the war for the hearts and minds of developers. And that while the price for that loss lags beyond the current platform, it’ll eventually come due, and they’ll rue the day they chose this wretched path.


I agree with @daringfireball that Apple’s approach of still charging 27% and showing a scary dialog in response to any law asking them to allow apps to use their own billing for IAPs is basically a 🖕 to regulators.

The question is if regulators will respond?

John Gruber:

I’m not sure why Spotify doesn’t qualify under the “reader” app category that can link to external web pages without paying Apple any commission at all.


Here’s a simple thought I had today regarding whether Apple’s new External Purchase Links entitlement policy is a good faith compliance with Judge Gonzales’s order: Will any developers actually choose to use it? Remember, to use this entitlement, developers must[…]

Christina Warren:

I cannot believe Apple is going to charge a 27% tax so developers can link to their homepage. I’m generally pretty meh on a lot of tech regulation if only b/c I think most government officials are idiots and it often doesn’t actually work. But this sort of move should be illegal. Full stop. It isn’t. But it should be.


[The] kindle app and Sony’s ebook app (which was killed by the rule change) let you buy books inside the webview of the kindle app. Then suddenly, Amazon couldn’t even link to their Kindle store from inside the app, which as Michael points out, the emails show was about iBooks sucking (even tho Apple literally broke the law trying to compete with Kindle. They broke the law and still lost), more than anything else.

Not enough people discussing this are acknowledging that, even if you only look back as far as the start of the App Store, Apple’s current stance is not how things always were. Tim Cook’s testimony notwithstanding, Apple has in effect raised the fees over the years by increasing the scope of what the 30% applies to.

And Kindle is still stuck, even aside from the fee, because the IAP system still isn’t up to handling a catalog of that size. iBooks, of course, gets to use private APIs.

Jeff Johnson:

I hear so much revisionist history and ex post facto apologia nowadays, but we old Mac devs are not fooled.

Mike Rockwell:

What Apple has done by locking down the platform is far worse than anything Microsoft ever did with Windows.

Charlie Sorrel:

It’s sad that a company that competes in the hardware world simply by making the best computers available can’t do the same in services. It would rather use its dominant position to bully developers into using its IAPs instead of making them so good that everybody would just want to use them.

Daniel Andrews:

Companies like Apple love to fashion themselves as a lifestyle or an identity brand, because they know that if people watch their specific actions too closely they’ll be reminded they’re simply a business that needs to keep growing to keep their shareholders happy. […] it just feels like we’ve hit an inflection point where Apple’s behavior is getting almost no support because there’s really no logical defense aside from the fact that Apple wants to make as much money as possible.

Dave Verwer:

I know nothing and am glad I don’t have to fix these problems. However, it seems like my prediction that making the smallest possible concession after every judgment will only make things worse is coming true. Every move brings so much negative attention and additional scrutiny.

Dave Verwer:

I would support a bigger rethink of how the App Store works. A shake-up that focuses on downloads and usage more than taking a percentage cut of financial transactions. One that makes sure that the largest companies in the world, who get massive value from the platform, pay something instead of nothing. I don’t know what that model looks like, but I can only really see changes of that magnitude putting an end to this current situation.

Armin Briegel (via Jeff Johnson):

Managing and curating the App Store is certainly a gargantuan task and there will always be false positives and negatives. But Apple took this job on themselves. No-one had asked them for this. The Mac was doing great before the App Store and still has a rich software market outside of it. Any goodwill Apple might have earned when they set out with noble intentions in 2008 is used up. Now, it is difficult to avoid the impression that Apple is not competing on quality, but instead taxing access.


Apple claims they compete with quality and ease of use, and their customers are willing to pay for a better experience. Generally, they succeed with this. But with the App Store, Apple has a strange blind spot. They have no competition and it shows. The App Store is neither safe nor easy to use. It is littered with ads (that Apple earns more profit from). It has a significant cost for developers, and instead of getting good value in the form of a safe market place, small developers live with the permanent risk that their income disappears because of some unpredictable review decision or because some scam developer outspends them on ad placements.

More than 15 years after its introduction, entire categories of apps and tools are still excluded from the App Stores. Many creative ideas will never be realized, because developers believe they will never pass review. For Mac admins, despite the fact that Apple has been cajoling developers to use in-App purchases and subscriptions, we cannot manage either with Apps & Books (formerly known as VPP).

John Gruber:

I’m up to at least half a dozen instances now where group chat discussions have turned to concerns that Apple might assert the same demand for a 27 percent cut of all Mac software. Meaning not just apps in the Mac App Store, but apps from outside the Mac App Store — even apps that are only available outside the Mac App Store. Even apps from developers who don’t have any apps in the Mac App Store. There’s now genuine concern that Apple is going to declare that they want a 27/12 percent revenue cut from all Mac software, full stop.

I’m disappointed by Apple’s decision to demand their commission from sales on the web linked from within iOS apps, but not surprised. But I can’t emphasize enough how flabbergasted many developers are — nor how offended.


Essential to the Mac’s continuing relevance is that it is continuously evolving. Much has changed since 2010, and much will surely change between now and the Mac’s 50th anniversary in 2034. But one thing that can’t change without destroying it is its openness to software outside Apple’s control.


Developer uncertainty regarding the viability of selling Mac software is the last thing needed for a platform that is already facing a dearth of new original native software. Apple doesn’t have to make a platform-destructive money-grab policy change to ruin the Mac. They can ruin it simply by planting the seed of doubt that they might.

I don’t think Apple would actually do that, but they have certainly been making the experience of selling software outside the Mac App Store worse: no more directory of apps, ineligibility for awards, spreading FUD that if it’s not in the App Store it isn’t safe, and a parade of buggy security requirements that make it harder to distribute apps. There are lots things that could be done to improve the experience of installing and updating apps, but they would rather everyone use the App Store.

See also: Dithering, Accidental Tech Podcast.

The Apple fallacy of bringing customers:

With DMA, if a user click a link to pay on your website, Apple takes its 27% cut because they say they brought you a customer.

However, when you bring customers from outside the App Store with your own marketing (easily trackable with campaigns), Apple still gets its 30% cut despite YOU brought them a customer.


Supreme Court Declines to Hear Apple v. Epic Case

Hartley Charlton (Hacker News):

The United States Supreme Court today declined to hear separate requests from both Apple and Epic Games in their long-standing lawsuit against each other with regards to App Store rules.


As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision today, the previous rulings stand and Apple is able to continue to disallow third-party payment processing within apps, but will have to allow developers to inform users about other purchasing options outside of the App Store.

John Voorhees:

That’s not the same as the Supreme Court ruling against either party, as I’ve seen reported in some places. In fact, it’s the opposite of a ruling. The Supreme Court decided not to decide. That’s significant because it carries no weight as legal precedent. Had the Supreme Court ruled, the decision would have been binding on all other US federal courts. As it stands, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision is binding precedent for the federal courts in that district only. That’s it. Parties can argue about the issues decided by the District Court and the Ninth Circuit in other districts, but they aren’t binding on those courts.


Judge Gonzalez Rodgers can sleep well knowing her decision won’t be second-guessed, but as we’ve already seen from the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s non-decision, legal battles between big companies that don’t like each other and have a lot of money never really end.

Epic’s Tim Sweeney immediately proclaimed that Epic Games would contest Apple’s “bad-faith compliance plan.” […] So now, the fight is over whether what Apple has done is sufficient to steer clear of California’s anti-steering law.


The main takeaway is that it’s clear that Apple isn’t going to change the way it runs the App Store without a legal fight or government regulation.

Tim Sweeney:

The court battle to open iOS to competing stores and payments is lost in the United States. A sad outcome for all developers.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple has asked the court to allow it to bill Epic for its litigation expenses, which amount to a whopping $73,404,326. According to gamesfray’s Florian Mueller, Apple came up with the number by totaling up the $82,971,401 in legal costs it spent on the case, and then adjusted that number down to $81,560,362. Apple then deducted 10% since Epic prevailed on 1 of 10 counts (Apple’s anti-steering rule).

Apple bases the claim on Epic’s original violation of its developer agreement, when out of the blue its Fortnite game offered an in-app payment alternative on the App Store. Epic previously accepted that it would owe damages if it lost its antitrust claims against Apple. Now that it has, Apple has issued the bill.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

This is because when you sign the Apple Developer agreement, which you must in order to publish software for the iPhone, you also agreement to indemnify and pay all their legal fees, if you sue them, and they convince a judge you somehow breached this compelled agreement 🤯

Adi Robertson:

Epic remains unsuccessful in its bid to make Apple allow it back onto the App Store[…]

It’s unclear to me whether this is because Epic refuses to follow the guidelines or because Apple has given them a permanent ban. It sounds to me like the latter. Although Apple once said that it wanted Fortnite back in the store if only Epic would comply with the guidelines, Apple’s most recent statement was that there is no basis for reinstatement of Epic’s developer account. So they can’t even submit a new build for review.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

It’s unsurprising but worth noting that Fortnite is seemingly never coming back to iOS, unless Epic sells the franchise to another company. iOS Fortnite players are like the children in an ugly divorce.