Spring is finally here, flowers are blooming and Google and Apple are gearing up for the European Union’s DMA. Third-party payment in the app stores is on everyone’s mind between Google’s deal with Spotify and Apple’s repeated fines in the Netherlands. Let’s dive into everything that happened this month!
Google is testing a third-party billing choice with Spotify
Google is testing a tentative step forward in the third-party payment option for the Play Store. They announced the launch of a partnership with Spotify to test a third-party billing option. Spotify had already talked in the past about the unfair practice of the 30% commission on payments in the app stores.
While this partnership announcement is a clear sign that Google is getting ready to offer an external payment option on the Play Store, there are not a lot of details on the deal. For example, how high is Google’s commission on this third-party billing? So far, in South Korea, where third-party payments are to be implemented in the Play Store following the recent law, Google’s commission is only reduced by 4%.
There’s also no deadline in sight for the end of that test. Google is probably trying to get ready before the DMA and the Open Markets Act go into effect in the European Union and the US.
For all the other regular developers who do not yet have access to this special third-party billing option, remember there are 2 deadlines coming for the Play Store:
Apps submitted to the App Store must be built with Xcode 13
Starting April 25, if you want to submit an app to the App Store it will need to be built with Xcode 13 (which includes SDKs for iOS 15, iPad OS 15, and watchOS 8). This way, every submitted app will be fully compatible with Apple’s latest OS versions available to users.
Even though they must be built with the latest Xcode version, they can still support older versions of Apple’s OS.
More details are available on the Apple Developer website.
Reader apps can now use a third-party payment option in the App Store
Apple just announced that starting March 30, with the update of App Store Review guideline 3.1.3(a), reader apps will be able to link to a website owned or maintained by the developer so “that users can create or manage their account outside of the app”. To do so, you’ll need to request the External Link Account Entitlement.
In order to be eligible for it, your app must:
- Provide one or more of the following digital content types as a primary functionality: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, or video
- Allow people to sign in to an account
- Allow users to access content or services previously purchased outside of the app when signed in (like on your website for example)
- Not offer in-app purchases on iOS or iPadOS while using the External Link Account Entitlement
- Not facilitate real-time person-to-person services (sport training, medical consultations, tutoring services, etc.)
In addition to those, there are several additional requirements to “protect users”.
Overall, it does look like a poisoned gift. You can link to outside payment but users will have to log in again in the new window because you can’t transfer that data. Not to mention that you won’t be able to offer in-app purchases for this, so it only concerns subscriptions and not one-time payments.
If you’re interested in this new functionality, you can see how to set it up here.
News from Google for Games Developers Summit
Earlier this month Google held the Google for Games Developers Summit. A few interesting tidbits were shared during the events, we’ve picked them out for you:
- You can now set up a campaign for apps in pre-registration mode
- Google’s tROAS will help you better target users for in-app ads and access that data in Google Analytics with AdMob (no SDK needed)
- Google Play Games for PC is coming, already in beta in South-Korea, it allows gamers to enjoy their favorite mobile games on different devices, including Chromebooks and Windows PCs
- You can now see country breakdowns in vitals for all your metrics in the Google Play Console
- Google is launching the Google Play Partner Program for Games which includes the following benefits:
More short-form videos in Google’s results
This is more of an SEO situation than ASO, but everything is connected in-app promotion. Google has said it’s working on surfacing more short-form videos in search results. Those videos need to be indexed in order to work , which means short videos on Snapchat and Instagram won’t work. However, TikTok videos work because they have their own URL and don’t need an app to be seen.
This is great news for app marketers, it means that by ensuring that your promotional videos (whether it is an explainer or a preview video) are indexable, you can boost your reach with just a little bit of SEO. Give another life to your ad videos (on YouTube or your app or mobile game’s website) and it may bring you more users.
Google wants to improve the app experience for large screens
Now that app ratings in the Play Store are becoming device-specific (developers can already preview this score in the Play Console), Google announced that users will also be notified about unoptimized apps for tablets and foldables and high-quality apps will be prioritized.
Apps that follow Google Play’s large screen app quality guidelines (from portrait and landscape support to keyboard and stylus capabilities) will rank better on the Play Store and have a better chance at being featured and ranking better. On the other hand, users who download low-quality apps will be notified directly that the app doesn’t meet “basic compatibility requirements”.
These features should become available gradually over the coming months.
The Android 13 beta is coming next month
Google just rolled out Android 13 Developer Preview 2, here are the new features:
- users will be able to choose the language for each app separately
- there will be new runtime permission to send notification from an app (it will request user permission)
- improved Japanese text wrapping
- improved line heights for non-Latin scripts
- text conversion APIs
- built-in support for Bluetooth LE Audio
Most big Android announcements should be made during Google’s yearly I/O on May 11th, 2022. Meanwhile, Android 13’s beta should start rolling out next month.
The DMA is almost there
The European Parliament and Council negotiated and agreed on the new DMA rules to limit the market power of some large online platforms like the app stores. This law may break open the App Store long-lived reign and force Apple to allow users to install apps from other app stores.
Outside of that, the DMA wants to push interoperability for social networks and messaging apps. As well as only allowing targeted advertising with the explicit consent of the user.
If a gatekeeper does not comply, the European Commission will impose fines of up to 10% of its total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year (20% if it’s a repeated offense). In case of “systematic infringements”, the company may be banned from acquiring other firms for a certain time period.
The text still needs to be finalized at a technical level and checked by lawyer-linguists. Then it should be approved by both the European Parliament and the European Council. Once this is done, it will come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal (and the rules will be applied after 6 month). The process for the DMA has been exceptionally fast, it should come to pass later this year without much trouble.
TikTok’s success is scaring Facebook
Facebook may have gotten over its ATT troubles and is still in front of TikTok according to AppFlyers’ most recent performance index, but the social media company is still scared of the Chinese app’s thunderous success.
According to the Washington Post, Meta hired a consulting firm, Targeted Victory, to amplify negative TikTok coverage. The consulting firm was tasked with feeding negative headlines about TikTok to try and steer the attention away from Facebook and its struggles (especially around the Facebook Papers).
This clearly shows that between TikTok’s unstoppable success and Facebook’s loss of users at the end of 2021, the veteran social media platform is scared they might not be able to compete effectively against the Chinese app.
Meanwhile, TikTok is still growing its ad business and even trying out ads in the search results.
Netflix keeps going with its mobile game venture
Netflix is going all-in in the mobile gaming business, it bought two new game studios in March: Next Games and Boss Fight Entertainment. They also announced 3 new games, two of which are already available.
Mobile gaming is clearly set up to be a big part of Netflix’s future. In the official announcement of Boss Fight Entertainment’s buying, Ami Rahimi, Netflix’s VP of Game Studio, said “We’re still in the early days of building great game experiences as part of your Netflix membership. Through partnerships with developers around the world, hiring top talent, and acquisitions like this, we hope to build a world-class games studio capable of bringing a wide variety of delightful and deeply engaging original games”.
Clearly, this is only the beginning.
The EU and US reach a deal to replace the Privacy Shield
The European Union and the US have reached an agreement in principle for a new framework for the trans-Atlantic data flow.
This comes after a court ruling struck down the Privacy Shield, the previous accord on data flow between the EU and the US on the ground that European users’ data was not safe enough in US servers.
Meta had previously threatened to pull out of Europe if a new deal wasn’t reached, just before they walked back on their words. However, we do not yet know what that new deal entails apart from the creation of a new “multi-layer redress mechanism that includes an independent Data Protection Review Court.
The approval of the European Court of Justice is still needed for the deal to move forward. Some, like Max Schrems, a privacy lawyer and campaigner, have already shared their skepticism about the whole thing.
NFTs are coming to Instagram
Whether you love or hate them, you might not be able to avoid them much longer. Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg stated that NFTs would be coming to Instagram. The announcement was made during the Austin SXSW conference. Zuckerberg mentioned that users would be able to display their NFTs in the app and mint things there “in the near term”.
He refused to be more specific on what the arrival of NFTs on the social media platform would entail but did say that it would come to the photo and video sharing app in the next several months.
If NFTs aren’t your thing, maybe you can find some solace in the fact that the chronological feed is back (you can activate it at the top of your Instagram feed when you open the app).
Numbers of the month:
The App Marketing Snack’s March episodes:
What we talked about
Hi there, I’m Marine (she/her), I’m a Content Manager at Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.).