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Apple throws developers the tiniest bone in order to stave off antitrust accusations

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Apple is trying to make gestures, seen by many as a token, in an apparent attempt to gain some good will and right some of the wrongs that have been plaguing the way developers are treated by the extremely (for Apple) lucrative iOS and MacOS App Store.

Now, those who choose to publish their app in this digital marketplace and earn a living there, might get allowed to send emails to their customers informing them about alternative payment methods that don’t go through Apple’s system.

Apple has also earmarked a drop from its trillion-dollar bucket – $100 million – that would go towards propping up small developers, and if the settlement the giant is eager to see approved in court goes through, it promises that the notorious app review process will gain some transparency through reports.

But real limits on how developers can promote their wares and make their customers aware about their options are still there. Thus, under the proposed deal, (here’s the proposal submitted to the court) developers won’t be able to tell customers they can pay for apps or subscriptions by alternative means via notifications or in-app promos, but only by sending them emails with this information.

Clearly, Apple is eager to bury this option as deep as it can, but still appears to be doing something about allowing developers and customers to bypass its greedy 30 percent cut in the App Store that has been the subject of much debate and controversy, mostly on antitrust grounds.

The desire to place more hurdles before developers rather than show genuine desire to help them thrive, is written all over this: first thing that jumps at a casual observers is that a customer will have to open the said email to learn of alternative payment methods, and that’s a big if – if the message ends up in the wrong inbox. And the decision to ban developers from openly promoting this option in their apps is suspect to say the least.

Judging by the way it is announced, the scheme looks like little more than a PR stunt, and a way for Apple to deflect some of the criticism being hurled its way for the manner the juggernaut chooses to manage its App Store.

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