A Couple of Changes for Apple Developers

Over the past week there have been a couple of changes for Apple Developers. One only affects developers while the second also affects customers.

Apple Small Business Developer applications are now open

Applications for Apple’s Small Business developer program began on Thursday, December 3rd. If you enroll by December 18th, 2020 at 10:00 am Pacific time you will receive the benefits of the program. To recap, if you earned less than $1m per year in Apple’s App Stores you are eligible to have a reduced commission of 15% instead of 30%. If you go above this amount in a year, Apple will receive a 30% commission for all sales after $1 million, as well as the following year. You can read a full-recap here. There have been a couple of additional details provided.

App transfers are not allowed while participating in the program. If you initiate an app transfer after December 31, 2020, or accept a transfer of an app that was initiated after December 31, 2020, you will no longer be eligible to participate in program.

This makes sense to some degree, because typically indie developers are not transferring apps, but that is not always the case. A second clarification on what happens if you enroll after December 18th, is also outlined.

If you’re already a member of the Apple Developer Program and submit your enrollment for the App Store Small Business Program after December 18, 2020, at 10 a.m. PST, your proceeds will be adjusted fifteen (15) days after the end of the fiscal calendar month in which your enrollment is approved. For example, if your enrollment is approved on February 10, 2021, your proceeds are adjusted starting March 14, 2021.

Again, this aspect of it makes sense, but some time is probably needed to make the actual adjustments. There is further information available on Apple’s Developer website, including a link to actually enroll. This change will only affect developers, however the next item will affect both developers and their customers.

Family Sharing enabled on in-app purchases

If you are a developer and you have in-app purchases in your apps, you may be able to enable family-sharing on them; should you choose to do so. It is quite common for one family member to make an in-app purchase and want to share that with their other family members. However, until now this has not been possible. To enable family sharing on your in-app purchases, perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to App Store Connect.
  2. Click on “My Apps” to bring up a list of your applications.
  3. Click on the app where you want to enable family sharing of your in-app purchase.
  4. On the left-hand side under “In-App Purchases”, click on “Manage”. A list of available in-app purchases should be appear when the page loads.
  5. Click on the in-app purchase that you want to manage.
  6. Under the “Family Sharing” section, click on the “Turn On” link. A popup will appear.
  7. The popup states “This in-app purchase will be able to be shared by everyone in a family group. NOTE: Once you confirm, you won’t be able turn off this feature.” Click on “Confirm” to enable family sharing for the in-app purchase .

There are two things to note. First, and most importantly, once you have enabled family sharing for an in-app purchase, it cannot be turned off. Secondly, not all in-app purchases are eligible for family sharing. Only non-consumable in-app purchases and subscriptions are eligible for family sharing. You can learn more on the App Store Connect help page for Family Sharing of In-App Purchases.

Both of these changes are welcome for developers. Customers will be able to benefit by not being required to make multiple purchases and instead can share existing purchases.

Apple Extends Deadlines for Developers

When Apple initially released iOS 13 and macOS Catalina, they had anticipated that they had provided developers enough time to comply with some requirements. These are:

  • Apps must be built with the iOS 13 SDK, and use a Storyboard for the launch screen
  • iPhone apps must support all iPhone screen sizes and iPad apps must support all iPad sizes
  • Apple Watch apps need to be built with the watchOS 6 SDK
  • Apps that support third-party sign-on services must also support Sign-In With Apple

Initially, Apple had wanted to have these in place by March 31st, 2020. However, due to Covid-19, many developers may not be able to accomplish this in the allotted time. Because of this, Apple has extended the deadline until June 30th, 2020.

If you are a developer, be sure to comply with these changes by June 30th, otherwise your app may get removed from the App Store.

Source: Apple Developer

Developer Changes for In-App Purchases

When Apple introduced the ability to publish apps to the iOS App Store in 2008, it was a very different landscape from what we have now. Back then you had either apps that you published for free or ones that were paid up front. Now, free apps are far more common than paid up-front apps.

In 2010, Apple introduced a new product, the iPad, which allowed for more opportunities within the App Store. With the introduction of the iPad you had two options, create a universal app, one that would work on both the iPhone and the iPad, or create two separate apps; one built for each platform.

While the possibility to build two distinct apps remained for a while, the introduction of the Apple Watch and the Apple TV have made the idea of creating distinct apps for each platform a bit harder to accomplish. The interfaces should be tailored for each platform, but the app itself would likely be shared amongst iOS and iPadOS.

Last year with the introduction of macOS Catalina, there was a new way to distribute your existing iOS apps, to macOS, through a project called Catalyst.

With free apps there are a number of different strategies for supporting free apps. These can be, ad-based, subscriptions, or in-app purchase. It has become more and more common for the latter two of these to be used. With in-app purchases, if you built an application for both iOS and macOS, using Catalyst or native frameworks, you would have to create two different in-app purchases, because they could not be shared between the platforms.

With the introduction of iOS 13.4 and macOS Catalina 10.15.4 you will

be allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once. You can choose to create a new app for these platforms using a single app record in App Store Connect or add platforms to your existing app record.

This is a huge change for the App Store and the distribution of apps in general. Users have been requesting the ability to purchase an app once and have it work on all of their devices. While this works for users, this can have some implications for developers.

Developer Implications

While the option to distribute a single application to all of the platforms is optional, it is likely something that users will quickly come to expect from developers. Yes, there are tools like Catalyst for macOS, it is still not at its full maturity in terms of having iOS apps ported to the Mac look and behave like native macOS apps that use AppKit.

This can have some ramifications for the developer. The first being that this can easily cut into profits for a developer. For larger companies, this may not be a big problem, but for the smaller independent developers this can have a huge impact.

With the pressure to make your application available on all platforms, and in-app purchases being good across all platforms, this will likely reduce the income for developers.

There are some developers who have wanted to have universal in-app purchases available because they want their users to be able to have the same experience on all platforms, plus users also question why they have to make the same purchase on multiple platforms. Therefore, this will be a great addition for both users and developers.

In-App Purchases on watchOS

Starting with watchOS 6.2, developers will be able to provide in-app purchases directly from watchOS. This will have a huge benefit to the watchOS platform as developers will not need to have users use their paired iPhone to perform in-app purchases, but instead have it possible to purchase them directly on the Apple Watch. This should provide a better experience for Apple Watch users and the in-app purchase workflow.

Closing Thoughts

While the addition of universal apps as well as universal in-app purchase will create a better experience for users, it could have some ramifications for developers in that they will be expected to support universal in-app purchase, which developers may want to do, as well as supporting universal app purchase, which may reduce their income.

I cannot say that this is not altogether unexpected, because it is something that both users and developers have been asking for for a while. It may take some time for applications to come to support universal in-app purchases as well as universal app purchases. This should be available starting with iOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.,4, tvOS 13.4, and watchOS 6.2.

Apple Updates its WWDC App

Today Apple announced that they are updating their WWDC app. There are three major changes. These are the name, a new WWDC tab, and in-app purchasing. Let us start with the name.

The WWDC app is now known as the Apple Developer app. One can This app’s name is definitely more befitting given the next feature, the WWDC tab.

The WWDC tab is a new tab that encompasses what was previously the entire WWDC app. This includes WWDC schedules, your favorites, lab schedules, and WWDC sessions.

The last new feature is the ability to enroll in the Apple developer from right within the app. This is done using an auto-renewing subscription within the app. Initially, the subscription feature is only available within the United States, but will be rolling out to more countries over time. Apple does have a step-by-step tutorial on how to enroll using the app.

if you already have an account you can log in. The ability to be able to enroll in an Apple Developer account will make it much simpler for developers to be able to enroll in the Apple developer program, without needing to go through the Apple developer site.

Hopefully, this is only the start to new features being added to the Developer app.

Source Apple Developer

Apple to Require Two Factor Authentication for Developers

Two Factor authentication on a Mac and verification on an iPhone

Today Apple sent out an email to developers about the security of their accounts. The emails states:

In an effort to keep your account more secure, two-factor authentication will be required to sign in to your Apple Developer account and Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles starting February 27, 2019. This extra layer of security for your Apple ID helps ensure that you’re the only person who can access your account. If you haven’t already enabled two-factor authentication for your Apple ID, please learn more and update your security settings. If you have any questions, contact us. Best regards, Apple Developer Relations

There are a few possible reasons for this. The first is, as the email states, to help secure developer accounts. By enabling the two-factor authentication, particularly for Certificates, Identifiers, and Profiles cannot be added by unauthorized users.

This will have some downsides though. By requiring two-factor authentication, only ten devices will be able to receive the two factor authentication codes. For most individual users, this will not be a problem. Five of these trusted devices can be Macs and five of these can be iOS devices.

I contacted Apple Support to verify the number, and it is indeed ten trusted devices that can be associated with an Apple ID.

For larger development groups who may need to allow more than one user to login to the Certificates, you will likely need add a user who has access to the Developer Resources.

If you have not already enabled two-factor authentication on your Apple Developer account, you will want to review the two-factor authentication support page to be sure that you have a way to recover your account, if needed.