Apple in September changed its App Store rules for in-app purchases to require apps that offer virtual events for more than one person to use in-app purchases.
Apple had set a deadline of December 2020 to require apps to begin complying with the rules change, but the Cupertino firm has now pushed the deadline out to June 30, 2021.
As the world fights COVID-19, we recognize that adapting experiences from in-person to digital continues to be a top priority. Although apps are required to offer any paid online group event experiences (one-to-few and one-to-many realtime experiences) through in-app purchase in accordance with App Store Review guideline 3.1.1, we temporarily deferred this requirement with an original deadline of December 2020. To allow additional time for developing in-app purchase solutions, this deadline has been extended to June 30, 2021.
Please note that guideline 3.1.3(d) allows apps offering realtime person-to-person experiences between two individuals (for example, tutoring students, medical consultations, real estate tours, or fitness training) to use purchase methods other than in-app purchase.
While apps that offer real-time one-on-one experiences between two individuals are allowed to use other methods of purchase other than in-app purchases, classes that involve groups of two attendees or more must use in-app purchases.
This means apps that offer one-on-one tutoring, medical consultations, fitness training, and other one-on-one sessions can be purchased in apps without using in-app purchases. However, person-to-person experiences that are one-to-a-few or one-to-many will be required to use in-app purchases.
Apple made this changed the rule as so many services have been forced to go digital due to the ongoing health crisis.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced apps like ClassPass and Airbnb to offer virtual experiences in recent months. These virtual experiences often lead to a purchase, and Apple is looking to take a cut of these transactions.
Companies like Airbnb have, of course, resisted the move. This led to Apple changing the rules a bit, to allow for person-to-person purchases that don’t have a fee while subjecting group events to the fee.
Apps will now have until the end of next June to comply with Apple’s new requirements.