Apple appears to be loosening up its policies around in-app purchases that have come under fire from third-party services and antitrust regulators over what’s come to be known as the “Apple tax.” An agreement between Apple and Amazon will now allow users to purchase movies and TV shows from their iPhone or Apple TV—something that Apple’s 30 percent cut policy previously made a gigantic pain in the butt.
For some background: Apple has traditionally taken a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases made through its system for things like video and series purchases or subscriptions. As a workaround, some apps decided to bar these purchases within the app altogether, making things like renting movies through Prime Video, buying Kindle ebooks for your iPad, and comics from Comixology more difficult than they should have been. But now, the company has evidently eased up on the policy for a number of “qualifying premium video entertainment apps,” including Prime Video.
“On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription,” Apple told CNBC in a statement.
Apple said it’s created a program for these “premium” streaming apps that offers “a variety of customer benefits—including integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on.” Now, you’ll be able to purchase content within the app using whatever payment is on file with those services, rather than paying through Apple’s system. Though details about when the program started are unclear, CNBC reported that Amazon opted in on Wednesday.
It’s unclear why Apple’s evidently made an exception for some services and not others, and it seems to poke holes in the argument that Apple made the move merely to avoid further antitrust scrutiny.
The move also doesn’t repair Apple and Amazon’s ongoing feud that’s made synergy across platforms a nuisance for users of Prime Video and, say, Kindle. But it will make viewing video less of a hassle for Prime members—especially for content that isn’t available to them through Apple TV. And certainly at a time when people are spending more time at home than normal, giving users greater options seems to benefit all involved parties.