In September 2021, Apple agreed to begin offering a way for certain types of apps to bypass App Store payments. So-called “reader” apps, the Cupertino-based company said, would be able to offer consumers an external subscription or account management link. That new provision has finally come alive, with Netflix offering an external subscription link in its iPhone and iPad app.
Appeasing the Japanese Fair Trade Commission
The move came to end a Japanese government investigation into Apple’s business practices. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission began investigating the iPhone maker in 2016 for possible violations of the country’s Antimonopoly Act. Specifically, it suspected Cupertino was “restricting business activities, such as selling a digital contents, etc, of enterprises that distribute applications.”
To end the investigation, Apple pledged to add the ability for reader apps to offer external links for subscription and account management purposes. Such apps would include the likes of Netflix, Kindle, Spotify and Amazon Prime Video.
Netflix Adds Its External Subscription Link
Since 2018, there’s been no means to subscribe to Netflix from its iPhone or iPad apps. Not wishing to continue paying Apple’s App Store commissions, it removed in-app subscriptions for new subscribers. The company tried redirecting users to its website in Safari, but Apple made that difficult.
With the latest app update, new subscribers can tap a button to visit Netflix’s website to sign up for the streaming service. This uses the new iOS API for reader apps introduced in iOS 15. Upon tapping the button, you’ll see a message advising you that you’re about to go to an external website. The notice also informs you the transaction won’t be Apple’s responsibility.
Any accounts or purchases made outside of this app will be managed by the developer “Netflix.” Your App Store account, stored payment methods, and related features, such as subscription management and refund requests, will not be available. Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of transactions made with this developer.
Once you tap through, Safari (or your chosen default web browser) opens a Netflix landing page. From there, you can sign into your account or register a new one. You’ll be able to choose a payment method and subscribe to a Netflix plan.
Other apps may soon begin offering their own external links. This is, of course, different from the allowance Cupertino has been forced to offer for third-party payment methods in countries such as the Netherlands and South Korea.