Apple rolled out software updates — iOS 16.1, iPad OS 16.1, and macOS Ventura — to all users on Monday. It also introduced new App Store rules that restrict features unlocked through NFTs and authorize apps to use Apple’s payment method to purchase “boosts” for social media posts.
The company said that apps may list, mint, and transfer, and users may view their own NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). However, ownership of NFTs should not unlock more features within the app. In addition, these apps can allow users to browse other collections, but they are not allowed to display external links, buttons, or calls-to-actions to purchase NFTs. Users can only purchase NFTs through Apple’s in-app payment system.
The company also prohibits apps from using other mechanisms such as QR codes or cryptocurrencies to give special access to users.
“Apps are not allowed to use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality tags, QR codes, cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency wallets, etc,” it said.
Industry people pointed out that these changes could seriously affect the functionality of web3-dependent apps (including games) within the Apple ecosystem. Until now, they could use NFTs as a way to thwart Apple’s App Store charges and at the same time as a token or key to unlock features for users – but that won’t be allowed anymore.
Notably, Meta has started rolling out features for users to show off their NFTs on both Instagram and Facebook. The company has also expressed a desire to open a marketplace for artists to sell their digital creations. But this move by Apple means it may have to pay an App Store fee if the marketplace is made available on iOS.
The company is also cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges, as it now requires them to have “appropriate licenses and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange” in all regions in which they operate. So Apple now has the authority to remove a crypto exchange from a local App Store if it deems the app illegal for that region.
Social media boosts
With new App Store rules, Apple said marketers don’t need to use in-app purchases to manage and purchase campaigns across different media types, such as TV, apps, and out-of-home. However, they will have to use Apple’s in-app purchase system to buy boosts for social media posts – this would only apply to apps that offer in-app tools for promoting posts. That means Apple will cut those sales, which could lead to an increase in platform raise fees.
This could affect companies like Meta, TikTok and Tinder, which offer in-app boosts.
- Apple has now included concepts that take advantage of current events such as “violent conflict, terrorist attacks, and epidemics” under the Offensive Content section.
- Apple also adds “hookup” apps or apps “that may contain pornography or are used to facilitate prostitution or human trafficking and exploitation” in the Offensive Content section.
- The company prohibits apps from using unauthorized music from iTunes or Apple Music as a game soundtrack or as background music for a video or photo collage.
- Smart home apps that support the Matter IoT standard must use Apple’s support framework to launch pings.
- Developers must provide full access to App Store reviewers through an active demo account or demo mode so that they can test account-based functionality.
In recent years, Apple has had to cut costs for the App Store and allow third-party payment systems for in-app purchases in many regions around the world. With these new rules, the company has added new possible ways to monetize the App Store. These changes have also raised concerns about Apple’s anticompetitive practices and his tight control about how apps do business in the App Store.