The team at the the micropayment service Flattr are scratching their heads trying to find a way to work around Apple’s decision to start rejecting iOS apps that let users make payments in-app. Apple told developers their apps were rejected because they violate the company’s terms of service.
Apple says no to in-app Flattr donations
Flattr has been gaining popularity as an easy way to donate money to podcasts and other online content creators they like. Vemedio added the service to its Instacast app as a way for podcast listeners to easily donate money to the shows they like, which led to a big upswing in money going to podcasters on networks such as 5by5 — and ultimately led to the rejection of an update for the app.
According to Apple’s terms of service for developers,
The collection of donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS
That rule means instead of including a one-tap button in an app to give money to podcasters, Instagram needed to instead redirect users to Mobile Safari and the Flatter website.
The situation isn’t, however, cut and dry since Flattr users deposit money into their Flattr account at the beginning of the month and the company tracks which podcasts and other online content users flag. At the end of the month, Flattr distributes the money from user accounts evenly among everything they tagged.
Since users already added money to their Flattr accounts, iOS apps that take advantage of the service are instead working as flagging tools so the company can track where to send payments.
“Both Vemedio and ourselves got in touch with Apple describing in detail how Flattr works, what it is (and isn’t), pointing at analogies (Spotify, Readability), and asked them to reconsider the decision,” the Flattr team said in a blog post.
Apple responded to Flattr saying, “We understand that directing your user outside of your app may not be the user experience you prefer to offer your users. However it is a common experience in a variety of iOS apps.”
Vemedio ultimately pulled Flattr support from Instacast so it could get bug fixes out the door, but both companies are still talking with Apple in hopes of finding a user-friendly solution to the problem.