Apple didn't force in-app purchases on Wordpress

Posted:
in iOS edited August 2020
Apple has clarified the situation with the WordPress iOS app, apologizing for the mistake of blocking developer updates to the app until they added in-app purchases, despite the app not including any functionality involving payments.




On Friday, it was reported the lack of app updates for the WordPress app were due to it being "locked" on the App Store. After three weeks of absence, developers of the app had agreed to implement some form of in-app purchase to the app to enable updates to go through again, among other possible solutions.

In a statement provided to AppleInsider on Saturday, Apple claims the issue with the app has been "resolved" overnight.

"Since the developer removed the display of their service payment options from the app, it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases," states Apple. "We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused."

At the time the block came to light, it was suggested the app was blocked because it was possible for users to see a page within the app's Help Center discussing upgrades to paid plans. This is in reference to WordPress.com's paid hosting offerings, which are managed from the website, not the app.

While the app itself doesn't offer any monetary transaction capabilities at all, it is believed the mention in the support page for the website version was a violation of App Store review guidelines.

The confusion surrounding in-app purchases arrives at a time when the App Store is facing intense scrutiny. Apple is currently facing antitrust investigations from regulators in the U.S. and Europe, while a public legal fight between Epic Games and Apple is also taking place.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,587member
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 2 of 21
    elijahg said:
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to 1) help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. 2) If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, 3) surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    1) Help pages, banners, etc... You can’t pretend to have a FREE app then direct iOS users to offers and upgrades at your .com store. 

    2) This isn’t NEW. There’s an agreement and they need to enforced it at all times. 

    3) You don’t get it, do you? 
    DancingMonkeyscornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    elijahg said:
    If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  

    Nope.

    Obviously, if what you were saying was true, then Apple would be collecting 30% of everything sold through the Amazon app, which they clearly don't. Firefox does not attempt to bypass the IAP scheme to sell versions of Firefox, so it's not breaking the rule. If Firefox tried to sell an upgrade to Firefox Pro without an IAP, then that would be a problem. If Firefox tried to sell an Firefox Cloud Services by putting a link that points to where you can buy the services then that would be a problem.

    It won't be "widely interpreted" as anything different simply because thousands of apps already do it.


    Beatsaderutterapplguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    And of course none of this stops the WordPress iOS/MacOS from being a showcase examples of why web-view cross-platform frameworks make pretty crappy apps.

    edited August 2020 aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    svdmnsvdmn Posts: 1member
    What this article fails to mention that others have mention was that page referencing the .com plans had been removed weeks before.  
    bala1234kbeechemengin1watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    svdmn said:
    What this article fails to mention that others have mention was that page referencing the .com plans had been removed weeks before.  

    I've always been in two minds about this rule. It seems a bit excessive.

    On the other hand, if someone jumped from the app to a site where they handed over their credit card details and ended up being defrauded, who do you think they'd sue first? 

    Yup, Apple.
    Beatsleavingthebiggwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,364member
    Apple_Bar said:
    elijahg said:
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to 1) help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. 2) If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, 3) surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    1) Help pages, banners, etc... You can’t pretend to have a FREE app then direct iOS users to offers and upgrades at your .com store. 

    2) This isn’t NEW. There’s an agreement and they need to enforced it at all times. 

    3) You don’t get it, do you? 
    Apparently not to be enforced at all times, which could be problematic with regulators if Apple claims it does.  Apple breaks their "rule" for WeChat, granting something special to them that nobody else in the world gets: The permission to market apps inside of an app. 

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/08/15/apple-chinas-wechat-bypass-rules-former-app-review-chief-claims/
    elijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 21
    This is not “good”.
    You can’t show alternative payment options that you offer? 
    That is the definition of anti-competitive behavior. 
    Fingers crossed for EU to enforce Apple to allow side loading apps as a secondary method, and accepting other payment options.

    Ofcourse it would be reasonable for Apple to block side-loaded apps from being hosting on Apple servers (that’s the definition of side loading) and using any services that cost Apple money but not make them, such as App Clips that live on their servers.

    Regarding alternative payment options, perhaps it would go hand in hand with side-loading: “as soon as you place content on the Apple App Store, you have to use Apple payment systems and hide alternative payment options. If you go outside our App Store, it’s up to you to offer whatever payment options you want”
    edited August 2020 elijahg
  • Reply 9 of 21
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    gatorguy said:
    Apple_Bar said:
    elijahg said:
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to 1) help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. 2) If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, 3) surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    1) Help pages, banners, etc... You can’t pretend to have a FREE app then direct iOS users to offers and upgrades at your .com store. 

    2) This isn’t NEW. There’s an agreement and they need to enforced it at all times. 

    3) You don’t get it, do you? 
    Apparently not to be enforced at all times, which could be problematic with regulators if Apple claims it does.  Apple breaks their "rule" for WeChat, granting something special to them that nobody else in the world gets: The permission to market apps inside of an app. 

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/08/15/apple-chinas-wechat-bypass-rules-former-app-review-chief-claims/
    You can do better than that, GG. US regulations don’t apply to other countries. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,364member
    gatorguy said:
    Apple_Bar said:
    elijahg said:
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to 1) help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. 2) If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, 3) surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    1) Help pages, banners, etc... You can’t pretend to have a FREE app then direct iOS users to offers and upgrades at your .com store. 

    2) This isn’t NEW. There’s an agreement and they need to enforced it at all times. 

    3) You don’t get it, do you? 
    Apparently not to be enforced at all times, which could be problematic with regulators if Apple claims it does.  Apple breaks their "rule" for WeChat, granting something special to them that nobody else in the world gets: The permission to market apps inside of an app. 

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/08/15/apple-chinas-wechat-bypass-rules-former-app-review-chief-claims/
    You can do better than that, GG. US regulations don’t apply to other countries. 
    Not sure what you're referring to when you say "US Regulations". 
    elijahg
  • Reply 11 of 21
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,814member
    This is not “good”.
    You can’t show alternative payment options that you offer? 
    That is the definition of anti-competitive behavior. 

    You're right.  When I go to BestBuy.com to purchase a router, it would be nice if the manufacturer of the router were allowed to put a caption on the product display that says "This product is also available at Amazon."  BestBuy should be forced by law to offer this consumer-friendly tip.

    Now you see how your assertion doesn't make any sense?  Alternative payment options means "PayPal, Visa, or American Express".  What you are referring to as "alternative payment options" is a horse of a different color altogether.  It's Peter does the job but Paul gets paid.
    edited August 2020 aderutterradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    tundraboy said:
    This is not “good”.
    You can’t show alternative payment options that you offer? 
    That is the definition of anti-competitive behavior. 

    You're right.  When I go to BestBuy.com to purchase a router, it would be nice if the manufacturer of the router were allowed to put a caption on the product display that says "This product is also available at Amazon."  BestBuy should be forced by law to offer this consumer-friendly tip.

    Now you see how your assertion doesn't make any sense?  Alternative payment options means "PayPal, Visa, or American Express".  What you are referring to as "alternative payment options" is a horse of a different color altogether.  It's Peter does the job but Paul gets paid.
    Your comparison fails. Since when is BestBuy one of the two only options in the world (Google, Apple)? There are hundreds of stores, so I can walk to any other retail store if I like. Healthy competition, free market. 

    The problem is that Apple is way, WAY too big to be considered a ‘store’ anymore. They have gradually become the gateway to pretty much all content that I download on my phone.
    elijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 21
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,092member
    elijahg said:
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    How was that an odd statement?  Clearly WP was confused because the CEO went out of his way to tweet to the entire planet that Apple was forcing them to implement IAP, when in fact the issue could always have been resolved without adding IAP.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    As a general verdict we can say that Apple, according to Apple, didn’t do anything wrong
    edited August 2020 elijahg
  • Reply 15 of 21
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,587member
    Apple_Bar said:
    elijahg said:
    It’s an odd statement from Apple, to “apologise for any confusion caused” when there wasn’t any confusion, Apple is quite clear that it won’t allow references to an alternative form of payment for things that could be IAPs.

    It seems that possibly in the face of current scrutiny, they have capitulated slightly on the application of their rules. They appear to have objected to 1) help pages mentioning non-Apple payments that’re displayed in a web view. 2) If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, 3) surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  
    1) Help pages, banners, etc... You can’t pretend to have a FREE app then direct iOS users to offers and upgrades at your .com store. 

    2) This isn’t NEW. There’s an agreement and they need to enforced it at all times. 

    3) You don’t get it, do you? 
    1) I didn't suggest that they were. Being able to see a generic help page about payments that happens to be viewable in a web view in an iOS app isn't "direct[ing] iOS users to offers and upgrades at your .com store"

    2) It is, since the app was approved before and now suddenly isn't. If Apple's review team missed that some obscure section of a help page in a web view references non-Apple payments, that's on Apple, not the app vendor.

    3 You don't get that there is technically no difference, do you?
    chemengin1
  • Reply 16 of 21
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,587member

    Rayz2016 said:
    elijahg said:
    If Apple is going to start blocking apps that display non-IAP payment types in web views, surely Firefox and other browsers should be banned because they allows purchases through it on third party websites? This rule is a really slippery slope and could be widely interpreted to include almost any purchase on iOS.  

    Nope.

    Obviously, if what you were saying was true, then Apple would be collecting 30% of everything sold through the Amazon app, which they clearly don't. Firefox does not attempt to bypass the IAP scheme to sell versions of Firefox, so it's not breaking the rule. If Firefox tried to sell an upgrade to Firefox Pro without an IAP, then that would be a problem. If Firefox tried to sell an Firefox Cloud Services by putting a link that points to where you can buy the services then that would be a problem.

    It won't be "widely interpreted" as anything different simply because thousands of apps already do it.


    Yep.

    They don't for two reasons. The payment isn't required to use Apple's system if it's for physical or non-app related items or (for now) if it's in a web view, but moreover, Apple has a special agreement with Amazon (and as Forbes says: "The offer appears to contradict the spirit of what Cook said during a hearing before Congress on anti-competitive behavior Wednesday: 'We apply the rules to all developers evenly,' Cook said."). Without Prime, several apps Amazon has on the App Store are useless, but I can bypass Apple's payment system to enable them. I can get Amazon Prime via the Amazon app, through entering my card details in a non-web-view in the Amazon app, which bypasses Apple's payment system and therefore Apple's 30% cut. Which is exactly what Apple disallows with other developers.

    Seems you might want to gen up on Mozilla's VPN service. Mozilla does exactly what you claim they don't, they bypass the IAP scheme to enable the app, and that's not a problem, apparently. The app is unusable until you signup, when you first open the app it opens a web view with subscription options, again bypassing Apple's payment system. That's allowed, but referencing payments on a help page through a web view isn't? Either Apple made (another) mistake interpreting their own rules, or they're testing the waters on closing the web view purchase loophole.
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 17 of 21
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,587member

    Rayz2016 said:
    svdmn said:
    What this article fails to mention that others have mention was that page referencing the .com plans had been removed weeks before.  

    I've always been in two minds about this rule. It seems a bit excessive.

    On the other hand, if someone jumped from the app to a site where they handed over their credit card details and ended up being defrauded, who do you think they'd sue first? 

    Yup, Apple.
    So people will for some reason think being bumped from a third party app to a first party app (Safari) and getting defrauded is Apple's fault, but presumably these people will think accessing a site directly through Safari and being defrauded is not Apple's fault? Right. I'm sure there will be some people who think it's Apple's fault they were defrauded in the first case, but probably no more than think it's Apple's fault in the second case.
  • Reply 18 of 21

    For years Wordpress did not have any references to external pricing in its free app. During those years Apple did not block Wordpress from upgrading its free app nor did Apple require Wordpress to implement Apple’s IAP in Wordpress’ free app.

    Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app.

    After Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app, Apple blocked upgrades to Wordpress’ free app that previously had no references to external pricing until Wordpress implemented Apple’s IAP or removed references to external pricing that Wordpress had chosen to add to its free app.

    Wordpress chose to break the guidelines it had followed for years, got Apple to enforce the guidelines then decided to make a public stink about what Apple had done.

    After the public became aware of Apple enforcing its guidelines, Wordpress chose to portray itself as the victim though it was the catalyst for having its free app blocked then Wordpress chose to remove the references to external pricing from its free app that had not previously had any references to external pricing.

    Wordpress chose to create a publicity stunt by adding references to external pricing to its free app knowing how and why Apple would respond. 

    Wordpress chose to inconvenience its customers by breaking the App Store guidelines it had followed and benefitted from for years to get free advertisement for its paid services that had nothing to do with its free app.

    The media gave Wordpress that free advertisement in exchange for being able to write one more negative article about Apple and completely ignoring that Wordpress orchestrated another manipulation.

    Wordpress chose.

    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,364member

    For years Wordpress did not have any references to external pricing in its free app. During those years Apple did not block Wordpress from upgrading its free app nor did Apple require Wordpress to implement Apple’s IAP in Wordpress’ free app.

    Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app.

    After Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app, Apple blocked upgrades to Wordpress’ free app that previously had no references to external pricing until Wordpress implemented Apple’s IAP or removed references to external pricing that Wordpress had chosen to add to its free app.

    Wordpress chose to break the guidelines it had followed for years, got Apple to enforce the guidelines then decided to make a public stink about what Apple had done.

    After the public became aware of Apple enforcing its guidelines, Wordpress chose to portray itself as the victim though it was the catalyst for having its free app blocked then Wordpress chose to remove the references to external pricing from its free app that had not previously had any references to external pricing.

    Wordpress chose to create a publicity stunt by adding references to external pricing to its free app knowing how and why Apple would respond. 

    Wordpress chose to inconvenience its customers by breaking the App Store guidelines it had followed and benefitted from for years to get free advertisement for its paid services that had nothing to do with its free app.

    The media gave Wordpress that free advertisement in exchange for being able to write one more negative article about Apple and completely ignoring that Wordpress orchestrated another manipulation.

    Wordpress chose.

    How does Apple's apology fit into your "publicity stunt" scenario? 
    elijahg
  • Reply 20 of 21
    gatorguy said:

    For years Wordpress did not have any references to external pricing in its free app. During those years Apple did not block Wordpress from upgrading its free app nor did Apple require Wordpress to implement Apple’s IAP in Wordpress’ free app.

    Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app.

    After Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app, Apple blocked upgrades to Wordpress’ free app that previously had no references to external pricing until Wordpress implemented Apple’s IAP or removed references to external pricing that Wordpress had chosen to add to its free app.

    Wordpress chose to break the guidelines it had followed for years, got Apple to enforce the guidelines then decided to make a public stink about what Apple had done.

    After the public became aware of Apple enforcing its guidelines, Wordpress chose to portray itself as the victim though it was the catalyst for having its free app blocked then Wordpress chose to remove the references to external pricing from its free app that had not previously had any references to external pricing.

    Wordpress chose to create a publicity stunt by adding references to external pricing to its free app knowing how and why Apple would respond. 

    Wordpress chose to inconvenience its customers by breaking the App Store guidelines it had followed and benefitted from for years to get free advertisement for its paid services that had nothing to do with its free app.

    The media gave Wordpress that free advertisement in exchange for being able to write one more negative article about Apple and completely ignoring that Wordpress orchestrated another manipulation.

    Wordpress chose.

    How does Apple's apology fit into your "publicity stunt" scenario? 
    Apple’s apology fits into my Wordpress publicity stunt scenario as follows: Wordpress chose to add references to external pricing to its free app, which was a signal to Apple that the free app was no longer free. Upon learning the free app was still a free app, Apple requested the references to external pricing be removed and chose to offer an apology for misunderstanding the free app would continue to being free even though the references to external pricing that were purposely added to the free app caused the misunderstanding.
    watto_cobra
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