Screenshots suggest TikTok is circumventing Apple App Store commissions | TechCrunch

TikTok may take a detour around the App Store to save money on commissions. According to new findings, the ByteDance-owned social video app is presenting some of its users with a link to a website to purchase coins used to tip digital creators. Typically, these coins are purchased through in-app purchases, which requires Apple to pay a 30% commission.

This feature may be hidden from most users, either by design or because it is only shown to a specific group of users, such as testers or high spenders. In any case, those who have access to the new option are seeing a screen that encourages them to “recharge” through tiktok.com – that is, buy more coins. However these screenshots were discovered within the iOS app by a TechCrunch tipster david teslerIt’s not clear how many TikTok users are seeing them or when or how they are being shown.

Tesler says the option to purchase via the web was displayed on an account that had previously purchased large amounts of coins.

Image Credit: Screenshot from TikTok app

In some cases, users are shown a screen that includes a message such as “Try recharging on TikTok.com to avoid in-app service fees” followed by a “Try Now” link. . Other times, they may get a pop-up that says “Try recharging on tiktok.com” along with another message about potential savings. It reads, “You can save service fees and get access to popular payment methods,” and followed by a large, red “Try Now” button or a less prominent option that says “Do not show again “

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Image Credit: Screenshot from TikTok app

Users who follow the provided link are taken to the website to buy coins: tiktok.com/coin, From this web view, they can pay using a variety of methods, including Apple Pay or a debit or credit card. The website reminds users that purchases made directly from TikTok will save them approximately 25% “with lower third-party service fees.”

On the web, users can purchase packs of coins ranging from 70 coins to 17,500 coins, or even enter a custom (higher) amount. However, inside the app, coin packs are available starting from 20 coins to 16,500, with no option for a custom amount.

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Image Credit: Screenshot from TikTok app

This may indicate that TikTok is only showing the web link to users who typically purchase large packs of coins at a time.

While Apple has started allowing developers of select apps Add links to their websites from inside the app In 2022, the use case was limited. The only apps that are eligible to offer these lines for “account management” are what Apple calls “reader” apps – or apps that offer access to paid digital content as their core functionality (think: Netflix, not Facebook). Additionally, apps that choose to use external link entitlements may also not offer in-app purchases through the App Store. It’s an either/or situation.

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Typical IAP flow. Image Credit: Screenshot from TikTok iOS app

Given that TikTok is also giving most of its users the option to make purchases via in-app purchases, it seems that it is not following external link entitlement rules, even if it were granted an exception (which will be amazing).

TikTok and Apple have not responded to requests for comment at this time. TikTok help documentation The coins are said to be available for purchase and recharge through the App Store and Google Play on mobile devices.

tesler noted That when Fortnite inserted an option that took users around Apple’s in-app purchases, Apple banned on Apps from the App Store. Given the current politics surrounding the Beijing-based app, it is unclear what action Apple will take against TikTok now.

TikTok’s current US fate is uncertain, as a bill is now underway to ban the app signed into law By President Biden. However, the company said it plans to fight the ban in court, as it has done previously President Trump, Biden basically did Try banning the app The moratorium will remain in place until a new bipartisan bill is passed in both the House and Senate.