Apps have become a huge economy, but the rules that govern them are nearly impossible to understand.
Apple and Google have twisted their decade-old rules for their app stores like a pretzel to the point where they may no longer make sense. This has made buying digital stuff in apps convoluted as heck.
One example: In theory, although not yet in reality, you can use your Amazon account to buy an e-book from Kindle’s iPhone app. You cannot buy an e-book in the Android version of the app. Until recently, Kindle purchases were effectively a no-go under Apple’s rules but fine under Google’s. Now it’s the opposite.
Confusing? Yep. Apple and Google have written long, complicated guidelines for apps and have frequently revised those rules to protect their own interests. (I’ve noted before that Apple’s app rules are much longer than the United States Constitution.)
Want more zaniness? Today, it’s easy-peasy to pay to subscribe to a podcast in Patreon’s iPhone app. Apple stands aside and allows Patreon to take your personal information and credit card details.
But buying other types of digital subscriptions can be completely different. If you purchase a platinum membership to the dating service Tinder in the iPhone app, you are effectively signing up with Apple, and Tinder is on the sidelines.
Apple takes a chunk of that membership fee forever. If you want to quit, you tell Apple, not Tinder.
Buying a six-month membership through the Tinder app costs some people $14.99 a month, but it’s $13.50 if purchased from the website. (The price difference is Tinder’s way of partly recouping the up-to-30-percent fee it pays Apple for each app purchase.) Oh, and paying to use dating apps might soon work more like paying for stuff in Patreon — but only in the Netherlands.
For now, paying for Tinder through its Android app is more like how Patreon works. But that’s only because Match Group, Tinder’s parent company, has sued Google to stop the company from changing its rules.
I could bore you with details of why Apple makes a distinction between buying a subscription from Patreon and buying one from Tinder. There is logic behind why you can buy a paperback copy of “1984” from Amazon’s Android app but not the e-book edition, …….