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Apple to Permit Game Emulators in App Store Around the Globe, Website Links in EU Music Apps

Apple to Permit Game Emulators in App Store Around the Globe, Website Links in EU Music Apps

Apple has once again updated its App Store guidelines, likely in response to the European Union Commission fining the company $2 billion and announcing that it is not satisfied with the changes Apple has already made to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

This time around, Apple is changing the rules to make it easier for music streaming apps to redirect users to an external website in the EU. Plus, for the first time ever, Apple will allow developers to offer emulators on its device platforms.

Apple is introducing new “Music Streaming Services Entitlements” for apps distributed in the European Union with the latest update to its App Review Guidelines. The company says it now allows music streaming apps “in specific regions” to include a link to an external website.

Music Streaming Services Entitlements: music streaming apps in specific regions can use Music Streaming Services Entitlements to include a link (which may take the form of a buy button) to the developer’s website that informs users of other ways to purchase digital music content or services. These entitlements also permit music streaming app developers to invite users to provide their email address for the express purpose of sending them a link to the developer’s website to purchase digital music content or services. Learn more about these entitlements. In accordance with the entitlement agreements, the link may inform users about where and how to purchase those in-app purchase items, and the price of such items. The entitlements are limited to use only in the iOS or iPadOS App Store in specific storefronts. In all other storefronts, streaming music apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.

Apple’s changes to the rules come on the heels of being fined by the EU Commission for abusing its dominant position on the market for the distribution of music streaming apps to iOS users through its App Store. The Commission found that Apple “applied restrictions on app developers preventing them from informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app (‘anti-steering provisions’).” This is illegal under European Union antitrust rules.

The new guideline only applies to apps distributed in the EU.

Apple also changed another rule in the App Store, and this one applies around the globe. For the first time, Apple will allow developers to develop and distribute gaming emulators in the App Store. Apple announced the news in an email sent to developers.

Emulators have been offered in the App Store in the past, but only by hiding emulators in apps, requiring a certain keystroke or screen-tapping combo to activate the emulators.

The section on mini apps and game streaming has now been updated to include game emulators. “Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games,” Apple says. However, there’s a catch.

Apple warns developers that they are “responsible for all such software offered in your app, including ensuring that such software complies with these Guidelines and all applicable laws.” This sounds as if only the companies that own the rights to the games distributed for the emulator are allowed to do so. No word on whether Apple will allow emulators to use the ROMs and disc images of games that are so freely available on the internet these days.