Apple's 'circumventing both the spirit and underlying goals' of an injunction forcing it to allow apps to steer customers to external payments, Microsoft & others warn

App Store on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

Apple and the App Store are again at the center of a legal spat that revolves around the way the former manages the latter — and how it forces app developers to work within its frameworks.

Following a ruling in 2021 that Apple must not prevent app developers from offering “buttons, external links, or other calls to action” informing users of payment options outside of their apps, Microsoft, Meta, and others have filed an amicus brief that alleges Apple simply isn't playing nicely. In fact, it argues that the company is doing very much the opposite.

Apple has historically told developers they must use the App Store's in-app purchases when selling items and subscriptions to users, but the previous ruling meant that they should also be able to direct those same users to their own website for potentially cheaper prices. But, the companies claim, the way Apple is behaving makes a mockery of that situation.

Broken steering

The Verge reported on the amicus brief, noting that Meta, Microsoft, Match Group, and X are all involved in its filing. And the filing makes for interesting reading.

“Apple’s new restrictions are plainly designed to render alternatives to Apple’s IAP impractical for developers, and inaccessible and unappealing to consumers, thus circumventing both the spirit and underlying goals of the injunction,” the brief reads.

The brief argues that Apple's demand for 12% to 27% of transactions handled externally makes the whole process pointless, saving developers very little over the alternative option of just using Apple's own in-house system.

Apple, for its part, argues that it has “fully complied with the Injunction” but those who filed the brief would clearly argue otherwise.

This brief came just a day before the Department of Justice sued Apple over its alleged anticompetitive behavior, making for what is sure to be a very interesting time for Apple's legal team in the coming months.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.