Apple’s tweaked antitrust offer drops separate binary requirement for Dutch dating apps

Apple has dropped a requirement for a separate binary which it had sought to impose on Dutch dating apps wanting to take up a legal entitlement to use non-Apple payment tech to process their in-app purchases.

Previously the company had argued that a separate binary was a “straightforward prerequisite” which did not impede its claimed compliance with the ACM’s antitrust order. (The Dutch regulator continued to disagree, however.)

In an update on “StoreKit External Entitlement for dating apps” posted to Apple’s developer site yesterday, the company said it had removed the requirement that developers of dating apps in the Netherlands who choose to use the entitlements must create and use a separate binary.

“This change means that developers may include either entitlement in their existing dating app but still must limit its use to the app in the Netherlands storefront and on devices running iOS or iPadOS,” Apple noted.

Additional tweaks Apple also said it had made yesterday are to payment service provider criteria — with the tech giant saying it is providing “updated and more-specific criteria to evaluate non-Apple payment service providers that developers of dating apps in the Netherlands may use” — as well as changes in the area of consumer disclosure.

On the latter Apple had added a requirement that Dutch dating app developers making use of the entitlements need to display an in-app notification to users explaining that they’re going to make purchases through an external payment system — “and the potential impact that choice could have on the user”, as Apple’s update blandly puts it.

The company writes that it is “adjusting the language on the modal sheet and reducing the number of times the sheet must be displayed” — so it looks relatively safe to assume that the original notification had been worded in such a way as to be deemed too scary/off-putting to users, making it less likely they’d go through with an ‘off-platform’ payment in the first place.

(Apple has been criticized along those lines for other types of notifications it bakes into iOS — such as when users want to give full permission to third keyboards to run on the platform, for example.)

Throughout this saga, the ACM has called out Apple for creating unreasonable friction for the developers in question — leading to a string of fines for non-compliance since January: Ten €5M fines in all, reaching a (current) total of €50M.

Apple and the ACM were contacted with questions on the development.