11 votes

Changes to Apple's in-app purchase rules

5 comments

  1. [5]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    Except this language isn’t clear: “terms are clear”? How is that defined? “Clear” isn’t well-defined. “customers aren’t misled”? How is “misled” defined? How can you determine this a priori? You...

    Except this language isn’t clear:

    Apps may offer other payment mechanisms in their app, as long as terms are clear and customers aren’t misled, and may or may not choose to implement in-app purchase based on its merits.

    “terms are clear”? How is that defined? “Clear” isn’t well-defined. “customers aren’t misled”? How is “misled” defined? How can you determine this a priori? You can’t just beseech people to be reasonable and call it a day. That has never worked and never will. The language here is circular. It’s essentially saying “anything is OK as long as it’s OK” which is basically no conditions at all. There’s a reason an army of lawyers write these terms and conditions.

    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      Huge amounts of law already works exactly like that, based on standards like "a reasonable person would expect this to be true". A major reason that the legal system is so large and complex is...

      Huge amounts of law already works exactly like that, based on standards like "a reasonable person would expect this to be true".

      A major reason that the legal system is so large and complex is because you can't write perfectly unambiguous policies/laws and they almost always require interpretation. If law was unambiguous, you'd never have appeals or rulings being overturned or anything like that, but those are regular occurrences.

      9 votes
      1. onyxleopard
        Link Parent
        But there is no legal precedent in question here (and I’m not sure if a preceding legal standard matters). Apple is defining the precedent ahead of time for the benefit of developers who target...

        But there is no legal precedent in question here (and I’m not sure if a preceding legal standard matters). Apple is defining the precedent ahead of time for the benefit of developers who target the App Store or are considering it. Vagueness here is harmful not only to reader, but to Apple as well as they will have to spend that many more resources adjudicating edge-cases.

        Guidelines are very tricky things to write well. (I know because I write them for linguistic annotation.) Relying on the average person to be sensible only takes you as far as simple cases (which don’t take much effort to cover explicitly anyway). It’s the edge-cases that are difficult and where the majority of effort is devoted in these sorts of documents. Apple has chosen to die on the hill of not allowing streaming gaming platforms, but since their platforms are general purpose computers, and they allow applications written in general purpose languages, then Apple has to do the job of explicitly defining what they do and don’t want in their walled garden. This is not easy, and I think possibly boils down to “we know it when we see it”. But, that is not satisfactory to Apple nor developers, so they have to try to spell it out. It’s not common sense (clearly, or nobody would be paying so much attention).

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      Except Apple's App Store guidelines have never been written by lawyers. Famously, Jobs was rumoured to have penned notable sections of it, including this gem, which as of recently, was still in...

      Except Apple's App Store guidelines have never been written by lawyers. Famously, Jobs was rumoured to have penned notable sections of it, including this gem, which as of recently, was still in there:

      If your app is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.

      I don't think Marco literally considers his alternative solution a verbatim sentence they'd genuinely use in the document, but is intended as a communication device to the reader to convey what he would consider a more appropriate ethos the company should adopt.

      2 votes
      1. onyxleopard
        Link Parent
        The words that readers read may not have been penned by lawyers, but they’ve absolutely been vetted by lawyers. Apple isn’t stupid enough to open that kind of liability to anyone who takes them to...

        The words that readers read may not have been penned by lawyers, but they’ve absolutely been vetted by lawyers. Apple isn’t stupid enough to open that kind of liability to anyone who takes them to court over this kind of thing. (Nobody would take them to court, right? /s)

        3 votes