Netflix has begun directing users on iPhone and iPad to an external webpage where they can sign up for the service, as first reported by 9to5Mac. The change comes just months after Apple began allowing “reader” apps that provide access to digital content, such as Netflix and Spotify, to link to account registration pages on its websites.
Since 2018, Netflix hasn’t offered an external recording link — or even told users where to sign up — in its iPhone and iPad apps. Users had to instead go to the Netflix website from a web browser or mobile phone to subscribe to the service Before Access to the application. This was done to comply with Apple’s rules, which made it difficult for apps to circumvent their 30 percent commission on in-app purchases and prevented developers from providing a link to an external registration page. The setup made it confusing for new users who (logically) thought they would be able to sign up for Netflix using the app.
But now, that seems to be changing – 9to5Mac Reports that iPhone and iPad users are now viewing an external link within the Netflix app that they can use to sign up for the service, and the edgeRichard Lawler noted the same thing. Users who click on the link see a message warning that they are “about to leave the app” and go to an external website. It also indicates that any transactions on the external page are not affiliated with Apple:
Any accounts or purchases made outside of this app will be managed by the developer “Netflix”. Your App Store account, stored payment methods, and related features, such as subscription management and refund requests, will not be available. Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of transactions with this developer.
Clicking on the warning will redirect users to an account registration page on the Netflix website where they can enter payment information and choose a subscription plan. It’s not clear when Netflix started offering this new option, and the company didn’t respond immediately the edgeComment request. Currently, the Netflix support page still states that users cannot access the Netflix registration page from the iPhone or iPad app.
Although Apple has begun to relax its policies for reader apps, it still has a strict set of guidelines that developers must follow, such as not including any pricing information with a link to external registration pages. Developers must also submit an Entitlement for permission to add an external link to their app.
Apple has faced criticism for its policies that force most developers to use the App Store billing system, for which Apple charges a commission. In response to a new law passed in South Korea, Apple has started allowing developers to use third-party payment processors in apps released in the country. It also made some changes to dating apps released in the Netherlands after a long battle with the country’s regulator.
But Apple will have more adjustments to make when the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) is passed, as it will force Apple to allow use of third-party payment systems, sideloading, and third-party app stores. Google has already started preparing for the new laws by giving developers the option to use an alternative billing system for apps distributed in Europe.
Update July 23, 12:42 PM ET: Added confirmation that the external link exists in the Netflix app.