Apple blocked updates for WordPress until it committed to support in-app purchases, says founder

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on August 22, 2020

File photo   -  REUTERS

Apple has blocked updates and bug fixes for the WordPress for iOS app until the latter committed to supporting in-app purchases, WordPress’ founding developer Matt Mullenweg said on Friday.

“Heads up on why @WordPressiOS updates have been absent...we were locked by App Store. To be able to ship updates and bug fixes again we had to commit to support in-app purchases for .com plans. I know why this is problematic, open to suggestions. Allow others IAP? New name?” Mullenweg tweeted.

The company aims to support in-app purchases even though the app itself does not sell anything. Apple told The Verge that it will require apps to enable in-app purchases whenever apps “allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site” and charges a 30 per cent app store fee.

WordPress website and web app allow users to upgrade their websites and purchase domains through various plans. However, the iOS app does not sell anything, it only allows users to create a free website. There are a few ways in which users can get to the web app of WordPress however Apple declined WordPress’ offer to block these pages instead of enabling in-app payments.

“There are a few convoluted ways you can get to our web app from within previews, documentation, etc. We offered to block based on user-agent server-side, but that was not deemed sufficient,” Mullenweg tweeted.

“I am a big believer in the sanctity of licenses. (Open source relies on licenses and copyright.) We agreed to this license when we signed up for (and stayed in) the app store, so going to follow and abide by the rules. Not looking to skirt it, hence doing what they asked us to,” he added.

Apple’s app store fee and its terms related to in-app purchases have been under scrutiny on multiple occasions. For instance, Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite has filed a lawsuit challenging Apple’s policies. The lawsuit had been filed following Apple’s decision to block Fornite from its app store after Epic had snuck in an update to allow users to use its own payments system instead of Apple’s to purchase in-app currency at a lower rate.

Published on August 22, 2020

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