Online group and event apps for iOS won’t have to say goodbye quite yet to Apple’s pandemic-related exemptions to its in-app purchase policy.
In response to surging coronavirus cases, Apple has pushed the deadline for these apps to continue using alternative payment methods until June 30, allowing them to circumvent Apple’s standard 15-30% cut of in-app purchases.
“In 2020, we chose to support apps and developers that needed to adapt services from in-person to digital as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Apple said in a company blog post on Saturday.
“Given the recent resurgence of COVID and its continued impact on in-person services, we’ve extended the most recent deadline to June 30, 2022,” it continued.
Apple tweaked its guidelines after facing scrutiny from federal regulators and developers over the operation of its digital marketplace. The company also came under fire for charging event platforms standard commission fees during a pandemic, a move critics condemned as profiting off the need of already struggling businesses to switch from in-person events to virtual offerings amid widespread lockdown measures and rising case numbers.
When it initially updated its guidelines in September 2020, Apple waived its App Store commission requirement for apps offering person-to-person services between two individuals, such as tutoring, medical consultations, and fitness training. Apps offering “one-to-few and one-to-many realtime experiences,” like virtual classes or online gatherings, were still required to process in-app purchases through Apple until the company expanded the exemption to group event apps a few months later.
This isn’t the first time Apple has extended the reprieve for its App Store commission requirement. After it was first set to expire in December 2020, Apple issued two six-month extensions, pushing the deadline to the end of 2021, and now, after yet another extension, June 2022. And while it’s good news for businesses whose in-person events have been pushed online, it also stands as another depressing reminder of how entirely too long this pandemic has been.