Apple has resolved a Japanese Fair Trade Commission investigation by agreeing to allow “reader” apps to connect to websites to create and manage an account with the app vendor starting in early 2022. The deal reflects a relaxation of existing App Store guidelines and will be applied worldwide, but it is also narrow.

First, the deal is limited to what Apple calls “reader” apps. In App Review parlance, these are applications such as the Netflix or Spotify applications, which “provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and videos ”.

Second, “reader” app developers can only share “a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their account”. This language suggests, for example, that users could follow a link in the Kindle app to manage their Amazon account and possibly initiate Kindle book transfers to an Apple device, but that seems to prevent the Kindle app from offering. a book catalog with links to a product page in a web browser. However, the press release suggests that a link could be used to set up a subscription to digital content like Netflix or Comixology Unlimited.

Third, the agreement does not deal with video game streaming services, which Apple does not consider to be “player” applications. Streaming games fall under a separate section of the app review guidelines, which require each game to pass the app review.

The changes announced to end the Japan Fair Trade Commission investigation only affect a limited category of apps and will only provide one web link. However, the deal is a sign that legal and regulatory scrutiny around the world is starting to force Apple to change the way it runs the App Store. With the number of pending lawsuits and investigations that remain unresolved around the world, I think we’ll see more of this kind of adjustment to App Store practices in the months to come.