September 8, 2021

PYMNTS:

Seven years post-launch, new PYMNTS data shows that 93.9% of consumers with Apple Pay activated on their iPhones do not use it in-store to pay for purchases.

That means only 6.1% do.

The survey was conducted between Aug. 3-10, 2021, 3,671 U.S. consumers.

Apple Pay’s adoption and usage isn’t much larger than it was 2015 (5.1%), a year after its launch, and is the same as it was in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

Does this mean Apple Pay usage is saturated? The folks who are going to use it are using it?

The growth in total Apple Pay transactions since 2015 has come almost entirely from more stores having contactless terminals to accept it, more people having new iPhones that can use it, and the overall growth in retail transactions.

And almost none of that growth comes from more iPhone users wanting to use it instead of plastic cards.

Pulling out that credit card is a tough habit to break. I think it’ll take a much bigger marketing push from Apple to change that ingrained behavior. Some sort of carrot, even a temporary one.

For example, when Apple Card came out, it offered a 3% discount if I used the card on any Apple purchases. That’s a solid discount, more than any other card in my wallet, and I was able to set it and forget it for all my monthly Apple services payments (iCloud usage, Apple TV bundle, etc.) That carrot got me into the habit.

Apple does offer regular Apple Pay promo discounts, but none of them are regular enough (at least in my spending patterns) to pull me in, to cement the habit.

If I was a regular subway rider, that’d do it. Or if my favorite restaurants offered an Apple Pay discount, that’d do it too.

I actually love the Apple Watch Apple Pay experience. Maybe once (and if) we’re ever able to move past masks, Apple Pay will start to grow again.

September 7, 2021

Apple announces event for September 14

Apple on Tuesday sent out notifications for the company’s next big event being held September 14 at 10:00 am. Dubbed “California streaming,” the event will be broadcast from the company’s Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, CA. You can watch the event on Apple.com.

There are no real clues as to be what will be announced, but September is the time for new iPhones, so it’s reasonable to assume we’ll be seeing the iPhone 13. There could be some other surprises too, but the iPhone is always the main attraction at this event.

The Singer-Songwriter EZX was recorded in a choice room, relatively small and transparent to ensure minimum ambient coloration. In total, it includes five full kits recorded with sticks as well as one configuration and several additional instruments sampled with brushes. To paint the broadest picture possible, each kit was handpicked for its contrasting qualities, character and tonal complexity. Seeking to deliver the most homogeneously composed kits, the selective process was scrutinized in extreme detail – from the matching of heads with tuning and cymbal sizes with drum timbres down to the delicacy of the drummer’s stroke.

This expansion pack is for EZdrummer 2 and Superior Drummer 3, and is tailored for acoustic pop, Americana, folk and similar genres. I have quite a few of the expansion packs from them and they are worth it.

September 3, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: Digital ID and Classical music

This week, Dave and I talk about Apple’s plans to allow people to put digital IDs into the Apple Wallet and what that means for users. We also talk about Apple’s acquisition of Primephonic, a Classical music streaming service, that will make Apple Music much better. Finally, we look at how Google is using quick phrases to invoke its digital assistant and if it could work for Siri.

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September 2, 2021

From yesterday’s Apple Newsroom post:

Driver’s licenses and state IDs in Wallet are only presented digitally through encrypted communication directly between the device and the identity reader, so users do not need to unlock, show, or hand over their device.

Gruber, after getting the chance to speak with Apple about the details:

The Wallet system Apple has designed for ID is very much like Apple Pay. When you pay with a physical credit card, you often hand your card to an employee. When you pay with Apple Pay, you never hand your phone to an employee. It wouldn’t even work, because no one else can authorize an Apple Pay transaction without your biometric authentication. This ID feature for Wallet is exactly like that: it doesn’t work without your biometric authentication, and your phone does not unlock when you use it.

And:

When using a Touch ID iPhone with Apple Wallet’s ID feature, you must register one and only one finger when you add your ID to your Wallet, and whenever you verify your ID in Wallet, you’ll need to use that same finger. Apple has never recommended allowing your spouse or partner to register one of their fingers on your iPhone, but many people do that. This feature is designed to ensure that the same person who enrolled their state ID in Wallet is the same person verifying it biometrically.

This makes so much sense.

Side note: If you do add multiple fingerprints to any of your Touch ID devices, be sure you label them (Dave’s right thumb, Sarah’s left index, etc.), else you’ll find yourself with a collection of unidentifiable Finger 1, Finger 2, etc. with no easy way to figure out whose fingers have access to your device.

Back to Gruber:

So if you’re just buying booze, say, and the clerk or server needs to check your age, they could prompt only to verify that you’re 21 or older, without even seeing your exact birthdate, let alone any other details from your ID. It is exceedingly more private than handing over a physical ID card, perhaps even more so than using Apple Pay compared to handing over a physical credit card.

Terrific post, read the whole thing, especially that first footnote. Some great advice here.

Will Apple make a discrete GPU for the Apple Silicon Mac Pro?

The danger in a simple question as headline is Betteridge’s law.

In this case, the headline is a fair question and the video embedded below an interesting exploration of the topic.

In a nutshell, while the M1 chip brought incredible performance to Apple’s laptops, the built-in GPU does not compete with desktop machines with high end external GPUs. Here’s a still frame from the video I posted this morning that gives you a sense of how big that performance difference is.

The Intel Mac Pro (as discussed in the video) is incredibly modular, let’s you plug in various high-end GPU cards for high-end performance. The M1 chip has a built-in GPU which inherently caps the graphics performance. So the headline question is a fair one.

If any of the above tweaks your interest, watch the video below.

Abner Li, 9to5Google:

Back in April, we told you about an in-development “Guacamole” feature that will let you use Assistant without hotwords. This Google Assistant capability will launch as “Quick phrases,” and we now know more about how it works.

Great job of reverse engineering/decoding the “quick phrases” mechanism.

Here are a few of the quick phrase examples:

  • Set alarms: “Set an alarm for 7 a.m.”
  • Cancel alarms: “Cancel the alarm”
  • Show alarms: “What time is my alarm set for?”
  • Send broadcasts: “Send a broadcast”
  • Respond to calls: “Answer” & “Decline”
  • Ask about time: “What time is it?”
  • Ask about weather: “What’s the weather?”

Follow the headline link for lots more examples.

Imagine if Apple let you customize Siri in this way (or let you change the “Hey, Siri” trigger phrase). Both would be big improvements.

At the core of this agreement is Apple’s definition of a “reader” app:

Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.

And:

Because developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase, Apple agreed with the JFTC to let developers of these apps share a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their account.

Apple’s announcement:

Apple today announced an update coming to the App Store that closes an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). The update will allow developers of “reader” apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account. While the agreement was made with the JFTC, Apple will apply this change globally to all reader apps on the store.

The change goes into effect in 2022. Feels like Apple is breaking down the overall App Store structure so they can make changes to individual categories to address the wave of anti-trust scrutiny/legislation.

Nikkei Asia:

Manufacturers of Apple Watch 7, as the device is expected to be called, began small-scale production last week but encountered critical challenges in reaching satisfactory production performance, multiple people familiar with the situation said.

And:

Three sources said the current disappointing production quality could be attributed to the complexity of design, which is significantly different from that of previous generations of the watch, and the assemblers found issues when putting together electronics modules, components and displays.

And (SPOILER RUMOR ahead):

The next Apple Watch will come with new features such as blood pressure measurement, they said, which means production involves fitting a greater number of components into a similar size body.

Interesting that an assembly issue popped up this late in the process, as if the assemblers were not prepared for how this generation of Apple Watch goes together.

Assuming this is not a major hurdle requiring back-to-the-drawing-board retooling, this seems more likely to impact the availability date, rather than the announcement date.

September 1, 2021

MrWhoseTheBoss and MKBHD: How tech companies manipulate the media

Two well known media figures talk about how big tech companies, including Apple, manage the media narrative using devices like split embargoes to control what features are allowed to be included in reviews.

Very interesting.

First things first, here’s a quote from Apple on the bill:

The Telecommunications Business Act will put users who purchase digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases, and features like “Ask to Buy” and Parental Controls will become less effective. We believe user trust in App Store purchases will decrease as a result of this legislation — leading to fewer opportunities for the over 482,000 registered developers in Korea who have earned more than KRW8.55 trillion to date with Apple.

And Gruber:

I think the latter half of Apple’s statement is true — user trust in in-app purchases will decline. The gist of these legislative proposals — like this month’s “Open App Markets Act” from U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) — is, effectively, to require iOS and Android to be, to some degree, more like Mac and Windows. Put aside the specific details, that’s what these laws are saying: phones should work like PCs in terms of loosening the control of the platform owners (Apple and Google) over what software can be installed, and what that software can do.

And:

I am confident that the overwhelming majority of typical users are more comfortable installing apps and making in-app purchases on their iOS and Android devices than on their Mac and Windows PCs not despite Apple and Google’s console-like control over iOS and Android, but because of it.

I certainly feel this way. I am more comfortable making an in-app purchase that goes through Apple. Though I do feel somewhat protected by purchases that go through my credit card, watched over by their fraud protection services. But that said, fraud means changing credit cards, which is always a pain.

The comparison to a Mac seems appropriate. I buy Mac software through the Mac App Store. But I also buy software directly from the developer, if that developer is well known and trusted (thinking about BBEdit, Keyboard Maestro in particular). I think I’d be OK if I had the same options on iPhone. Obviously, at the root of this decision, for me, is fear of malware.

One last bit from Gruber:

But from what I’ve seen over the last few decades, the quality of the user experience of every computing platform is directly correlated to the amount of control exerted by its platform owner. The current state of the ownerless world wide web speaks for itself.

Thoughtful insight. Chewing on this.

Good post from Gruber, worth following the headline link and reading the whole thing. There’s a lot more.

Apple:

Apple today announced that it is working with several states across the country, which will roll out the ability for their residents to seamlessly and securely add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet on their iPhone and Apple Watch.

The states in question:

Arizona and Georgia will be the first states to introduce this new innovation to their residents, with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah to follow.

And:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will enable select airport security checkpoints and lanes in participating airports as the first locations customers can use their driver’s license or state ID in Wallet. Built with privacy at the forefront, Wallet provides a more secure and convenient way for customers to present their driver’s licenses and state IDs on iPhone or Apple Watch.

How will this work?

Similar to how customers add new credit cards and transit passes to Wallet today, they can simply tap the + button at the top of the screen in Wallet on their iPhone to begin adding their license or ID. If the user has an Apple Watch paired to their iPhone, they will be prompted to also add their ID or driver’s license to their Wallet app on their Apple Watch. The customer will then be asked to use their iPhone to scan their physical driver’s license or state ID card and take a selfie, which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification. As an additional security step, users will also be prompted to complete a series of facial and head movements during the setup process. Once verified by the issuing state, the customer’s ID or driver’s license will be added to Wallet.

And:

Apple’s mobile ID implementation supports the ISO 18013-5 mDL (mobile driver’s license) standard which Apple has played an active role in the development of, and which sets clear guidelines for the industry around protecting consumers’ privacy when presenting an ID or driver’s license through a mobile device.

Follow the headline link for details (and images) on the storing and sharing of your ID.

M.G. Siegler:

For the 11th straight year that Apple has been making iPads, there will be no native Weather app for the device. This despite the fact that such an app launched on day one with the iPhone, fourteen years ago. And despite the fact that a Weather widget, made by Apple, has existed for a few years now. With iPad OS 15, that widget is getting the same upgrade that it got in iOS 14. That is, it’s moving to the home screens of millions of devices.

OK, sounds good, a weather widget on the Home Screen, what’s not to like?

And when they click on it, they’ll see… this bullshit.

Pausing so you can follow the link.

Honestly, it’s embarrassing. Apple has outsourced its soul to an absolutely awful weather.com webpage. On load, you’ll see crappy ad after crappy ad. Keep scrolling and you’ll quickly be subsumed by shitty click-bait-y ads. “Kill the Goblin!” And go further still and it’s full-on porn-y spam. Apple is sending millions upon millions of their users to this experience. Apple!

And:

That default Weather widget is about to land on tens of millions of iPad screens with the launch of iPad OS 15 this fall. And with that, Apple will be sending tens of millions of dollars (maybe more?) indirectly to weather.com — which, incidentially is now owned by IBM. Insert the Steve Jobs giving the finger image here.

Just for you, M.G., here’s that famous photo.

Side note: The photo was taken by Jean Pigozzi, and shared with Andy Hertzfeld, who shared it with the world.

Is weather.com paying for this placement on iPad? Why is the iPhone weather experience so different from iPad? Have long wondered this. Anyone know the real scoop?

Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac:

While Apple does allow you to create shared albums in iCloud Photos, it doesn’t allow a way for families to create a single library for all of their family photos or even easily give another person access to copy photos to their own library. For many people, the iPhone is their primary camera, and therefore Apple needs a way to help families unify their photo library.

Shared albums do exist, but the photos are not original quality and videos are length limited. Not the same thing as a family member seeing what I see.

Google solves this problem with something they call Partner Sharing:

You can share photos of specific people or share photos from a specific date onward. Photos will be shared automatically as they are backed up to your account.

If you read the Google tech note, you’ll see it’s not perfect, but it does allow more automated sharing of original content than Apple. And I stress the word automated.

I’d love a set it and forget it approach that let my wife’s iPhone photos make their way into my stream, giving us a single family album to search and look back on.

Nice writeup, Bradley.

August 31, 2021

CNBC:

South Korea’s parliament has approved a bill that will make it the first country to impose curbs on Google and Apple’s payment policies that force developers to only use the tech giants’ proprietary billing systems.

And:

The bill, approved Tuesday, means that developers will be able to avoid paying commission to major app store operators — like Google and Apple — by directing users to pay via alternate platforms.

And Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives:

“It’s a potential watershed moment,” Ives said on CNBC’ “Street Signs Asia” on Monday ahead of the decision in Seoul. “Not necessarily for what this means in itself, but for the ripple effect as it shows that they’re not just words, but actually actions.”

This bill may likely have a relatively small direct impact on Apple’s App Store revenues, but the indirect impact may be huge, if other countries follow suit.

Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal, on her water damaged MacBook Pro:

See, with no AppleCare+ to cover accidental damage, Apple said it would repair the machine in five to seven days…for $999. Nearly its original price! The Apple Genius said buying a new laptop would probably make more sense. Then I brought it to an independent repair shop. It was fixed within a day…for $325.

It’s exactly what Apple and various tech companies don’t want you to do. It’s exactly what proponents of the “Right to Repair” want to make it easier to do.

Watch the video, embedded below.

From Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac, yesterday:

In an investor note, Ming-Chi Kuo today said that he expects the upcoming iPhone 13 models to feature a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communication mode. This would allow an iPhone 13 user to send messages and make phone calls, even when they are not within standard 4G/5G cell tower coverage.

And today, from Juli Clover, reporting on this paywalled Bloomberg article:

There are at least two emergency features that will rely on satellite networks, and while satellite technology has been in the works for years, these capabilities are not likely to launch in 2021.

The first feature, Emergency Message via Satellite, is designed to let users text emergency services and contacts using a satellite network when there is no signal available, and it will be integrated into the Messages app as a third communications protocol alongside SMS and iMessage. It will feature gray message bubbles rather than green or blue, and message length will be restricted.

And:

The second feature will let users report major emergencies like plane crashes and fires using satellite networks. It will be similar to a “911” call in the U.S. and can provide information like a user’s location and medical ID, in addition to alerting emergency contacts.

Sounds like this will be built into the iPhone 13 hardware, not intended as an alternative to traditional carriers, and those grey bubbles won’t roll out until next year.

José Adorno, 9to5Mac, quoting this Billboard Pro post:

Those numbers make Donda Apple Music’s third-most streamed album ever in the first 24 hours of release, and it set another record by topping Apple Music’s top albums charts in 152 countries in that time span.

And:

According to the magazine, West also became Apple Music’s most-streamed artist and took 19 of the top 20 spots on the streaming service’s Daily Top 100 Global songs chart.

Here’s a link to Donda on Apple Music.

Apple shares official trailer for Apple TV+ Velvet Underground documentary

If you are into music, especially the tree of musical influences, this looks to be worth watching. The Velvet Underground, especially Lou Reed, were major influences of the underground/alternative music genres. Also part of this documentary is the art explosion (centered on Andy Warhol) that happened in New York in the 1960s.

Definitely on my short list. Check out the trailer below.

From Apple’s press release, which Jim posted last night:

Apple today announced it has acquired Primephonic, the renowned classical music streaming service that offers an outstanding listening experience with search and browse functionality optimized for classical, premium-quality audio, handpicked expert recommendations, and extensive contextual details on repertoire and recordings.

And:

With the addition of Primephonic, Apple Music subscribers will get a significantly improved classical music experience beginning with Primephonic playlists and exclusive audio content. In the coming months, Apple Music Classical fans will get a dedicated experience with the best features of Primephonic, including better browsing and search capabilities by composer and by repertoire, detailed displays of classical music metadata, plus new features and benefits.

I wanted to add my 2 cents. A big part of this is the metadata. With popular music, you can mostly get what you want by asking Siri for an artist and a song or album. Classical music adds layers to this request. At the very least, you’ll want the composer, performer, soloist, movement, etc. Generally, I want to listen to classical music in the same order in which it was performed/recorded, not shuffled or selected at random.

As is, Apple Music and Siri are set up for popular music. Getting down to a specific classical piece is tricky at best.

Ask Siri to play Mozart. Chances are good, you got Mozart. Now ask Siri to play Beethoven (I got some explicit lyrics, so careful if you are at work). Likely not what you expected. Now try being more specific: Ask Siri to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Also not likely what you expected.

Not a fair test, really. Apple Music is not set up for the classical music experience. Seems like that is about to change for the better.

As to the Primephonic service:

Primephonic is no longer available for new subscribers and will be taken offline beginning September 7. Apple Music plans to launch a dedicated classical music app next year combining Primephonic’s classical user interface that fans have grown to love with more added features. In the meantime, current Primephonic subscribers will receive six months of Apple Music for free, providing access to hundreds of thousands of classical albums, all in Lossless and high-resolution audio, as well as hundreds of classical albums in Apple Music’s Spatial Audio, with new albums added regularly.

Looking forward to seeing this new, classical side of Apple Music.

August 30, 2021

Apple today announced it has acquired Primephonic, the renowned classical music streaming service that offers an outstanding listening experience with search and browse functionality optimized for classical, premium-quality audio, handpicked expert recommendations, and extensive contextual details on repertoire and recordings.

Users of Apple Music classical will absolutely love this acquisition.What’s really interesting is that Apple plans to release separate classical music app based on Primephonic, but with added features, sometime next year. Apple Music will also get some upgrades from the purchase like better browsing and search capabilities by composer and by repertoire, detailed displays of classical music metadata, plus new features and benefits. There is no word where Thomas Steffens, Primephonic’s co-founder and CEO, fits into Apple Music.

Definitely a great move for Apple Music.

Deadline:

Apple Studios has set a high profile project that will reteam Marvel stalwarts Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans in Ghosted, a romantic action adventure that will be directed by Dexter Fletcher. He helmed Rocketman and finished Bohemian Rhapsody. The stars are in advanced negotiations.

Script by the writers of Deadpool and Zombieland. Could be great.

Mark Gurman, from the weekly PowerOn newsletter:

Cook, who turns 61 in November, is all but assured to be Apple’s CEO into 2025, when 1 million shares designed to keep him at the helm finish paying out.

And:

The belief inside Apple is that Cook just wants to stick around for one more major new product category, which is likely to be augmented reality glasses rather than a car.

And:

There’s no downplaying how critical the role of Apple’s CEO is, and it’s never too early to speculate on who will take on the position. With that in mind, I’ve come up with some strong possibilities. Let’s start by looking at each member of Apple’s executive team.

This is a great read. Assuming Tim does step down when his million shares fully vest, whoever takes the helm will likely have to deal with some worldwide political/legislative turmoil, from antitrust investigations to privacy turmoil to country-by-country rulings on how Apple can run their ship. Not to mention the rising activism within the company. The Apple CEO job is getting tougher by the minute.

Sami Fathi, MacRumors:

While the feature was previewed at WWDC in June, it’s yet to make an official appearance in any developer beta of ‌macOS Monterey‌ or ‌iPadOS 15‌, leading to speculation that the feature may be delayed to a future update to the operating systems. However, in the latest ‌macOS Monterey‌ beta released on August 11, Universal Control can be enabled and used between two Macs.

And this, in bold:

Universal Control is not yet officially enabled in the latest macOS beta, and the steps needed to enable it are complex. We don’t advise users to attempt to enable it because it may damage crucial system files and their machines.

If that doesn’t put you off, here’s the magic. Looks like it’s macOS only, for the moment. Backup your Mac before you dig in.

Apple:

Heralded by a teaser video, Apple today announced that acclaimed host, writer, producer, director and advocate Jon Stewart’s hotly anticipated new current affairs series “The Problem With Jon Stewart” is set to debut globally on Apple TV+ on Thursday, September 30, followed by new episodes every other week.

Every other week. That’s certainly unusual. Guessing that’s what was required to close the deal.

And:

The series’ official podcast will also premiere on Thursday, September 30 on Apple Podcasts and via RSS, with new episodes every week (where available).

Watch the teaser, embedded below. Don’t miss that throwaway line about 34 seconds in. Definitely looking forward to having Jon Stewart’s wry wit back in the universe.

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

In an investor note, Ming-Chi Kuo today said that he expects the upcoming iPhone 13 models to feature a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communication mode. This would allow an iPhone 13 user to send messages and make phone calls, even when they are not within standard 4G/5G cell tower coverage.

And:

Kuo says that the iPhone 13 will use a customized version of the Qualcomm X60 baseband modem chip. This chip will support communications over satellite.

And:

In the future, Kuo speculates that LEO satellite communication may also be used by the upcoming Apple AR headset, the Apple Car and other Internet-of-Things accessories.

The big question for me is, if true, how will this perform under load? Well enough to move people off traditional carriers?

In other words, if I have WiFi at home and at the office, would a LEO phone/text capability be good enough that I’d have no need for a cellular connection?

Also, what would the physical constraints be? Outdoor use only? Would it work in a moving vehicle?

More to look forward to in the upcoming (rumored) Apple event.

Side note: Most of the artificial objects in space are in low Earth orbit, including all crewed space stations and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Variety:

After being delayed a week and switched from an in-person event to a virtual ceremony, the Hollywood Critics Association revealed the winners for its first-ever HCA TV Awards — and Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso” led the pack with four victories.

“Ted Lasso” was named best streaming comedy, best comedy actor in a streaming series (Jason Sudeikis), best comedy supporting actor in a streaming series (Brett Goldstein) and best comedy supporting actress in a streaming series (Hannah Waddingham, tied with “Hacks” star Hannah Einbinder).

Rupert Grint (best knows as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter universe) was another Apple TV+ winner, picking up the Best Supporting Actor award for Servant.

August 27, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: Google’s payment to Apple, and Samsung

Google paid Apple around $10 billion in 2020 to have it as the default search engine on Apple devices. That is expected to go up to $15 billion in 2021, and even higher in years to come. Samsung had an interesting week with its ability to block stolen TVs and having a flight evacuated after one of its phones ignites. Dave and I also sprinkle in some follow-up items from last week’s show.

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Thanks to BBEdit for sponsoring The Loop this week. New! BBEdit 14 is still the power tool for text and also offers a new Notes capability plus greatly expanded language support!

Apple:

Apple today announced a number of changes coming to the App Store that, pending court approval, will resolve a class-action suit from US developers.

Key there is “pending court approval”, so this could still change.

Key changes:

The agreement clarifies that developers can share purchase options with users outside of their iOS app; expands the price points developers can offer for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and paid apps; and establishes a new fund to assist qualifying US developers.

Homing in on that first change:

Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out.

And this, from the plaintiff’s motion for approval:

Apple has agreed to revise its App Store Guidelines to permit developers of all app categories to communicate with consenting customers outside their app, including via email and other communication services, about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase. See Berman Decl., Ex. A at § 5.1.3. Under the App’s Store existing Guidelines, developers may not use contact information (emails, phone numbers, etc.) obtained within an app to contact their user base outside the app. As a practical matter, this prevents developers from alerting their customers to alternative payment options. The proposed Settlement lifts this restriction, and it does so for all app categories.

So theoretically, I could put an app in the App Store that was purely a demo (limited features), with a notification that pointed to a web site (outside Apple’s control) to sign up for the full version. Again, theoretically, I could put in language that said, you’ll save me Apple’s 15%/30% commission if you sign up on my web site.

My question is, would Apple approve an app with language like that?

There are other changes as part of the settlement. One interesting one:

Apple will also establish a fund to assist small US developers, particularly as the world continues to suffer from the effects of COVID-19. Eligible developers must have earned $1 million or less through the US storefront for all of their apps in every calendar year in which the developers had an account between June 4, 2015, and April 26, 2021 — encompassing 99 percent of developers in the US. Details will be available at a later date.

This strikes me as a pool, split among all eligible participants, something common for class suit settlements. You get a notification from the settlement fund, certify that you meet the conditions, become part of the settlement, get a check or credit (usually tiny, depending on the number of participants). Not certain that’s what’s going on here, we’ll learn more once the settlement is approved.

There’s definitely a lot of spin in the press release. Maybe Apple trying to prove a point to anti-trust folks? Follow the headline link for all the details.