Apple News+ sign-up screen violates App Store guidelines, says ex-Apple developer

A developer who worked at Apple for seven years has accused the Cupertino company of violating its own App Store guidelines. Dave DeLong says that the Apple News+ sign-up screen is in clear violation of three requirements, with The Verge pointing to another major no-no …

Dave DeLong tweeted his complaint.

Hey @apple, your auto-renewing subscription screen is in violation of guideline 3.1.2 and your app should be rejected.

For starters… no links to privacy policy or support page; no info on how to cancel.

The Verge added that Apple has particularly stringent guidelines for making it clear to users how much they will pay if they take out a free trial of a subscription and then don’t cancel.

Just tap that “Try it Free” button, confirm your payment, and you’re off to the races. Thing is, Apple forbids developers from making things seem quite this simple […]

Typically, Apple protects users from recurring fees by requiring developers to make those numbers so large on the screen that it’s painfully obvious what you’re getting into, how often you’ll pay, and how to cancel if you decide you’re not interested anymore.

And here are the actual guidelines.

In the purchase flow, the amount that will be billed must be the most prominent pricing element in the layout. For example, an annual subscription should clearly display the total amount that will be billed upon purchase […]

In the purchase flow for a free trial, clearly indicate how long the free trial lasts, the price billed once the free trial is over, and the renewal terms. Make sure users know that once the free trial is over a payment will be automatically initiated for the next subscription duration, and that they can cancel at any time.

The Apple News+ sign-up does list the price if you continue, and does say you can cancel anytime, but doesn’t say how long the trial lasts and doesn’t make the price particularly prominent.

The Verge’s Sean Hollister says this is not the first time Apple has broken its own rules.

Why won’t Apple follow its own rules? That’s the question running through my mind right now, as I write a post for The Verge about how — for the fourth time in four months — Apple is promoting its own content in ways that are forbidden to Apple’s own developers.

The last three times, Apple sent people unwanted push notifications promoting Apple Music and Carpool Karaoke, as well as Apple Music on Amazon Echo.

DeLong says he’s surprised Apple hasn’t been sued.

Some might argue that Apple News isn’t in the App Store as it’s pre-installed, but if you remove it and want to re-install, that is done through the App Store.

Spotify has recently filed an unrelated complaint in Europe about what it considers unfair and anti-competitive treatment on the App Store, arguing that it has to hand over a cut of subscription revenue to Apple while Apple Music doesn’t face the same cost. Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has done the same in Russia.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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