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Hulu Plus for iOS complies with Apple's subscription rules, removes Web link

In response to Apple's newly revised rules for subscription applications on iOS, Hulu Plus has removed a link to its website where users can buy a subscription outside of the confines of the App Store.

Previously, the Hulu application for iPad had a link that told users to visit the site to subscribe to the service. But as noted by Peter Kafka of All Things D, the login screen for the software has been revised, and no longer offers a link for users to subscribe to Hulu Plus.

Hulu does not offer users the ability to subscribe to its "Plus" service through Apple's official App Store for iOS devices. If Hulu were to allow users to easily subscribe through App Store software, the video streaming service would have to provide Apple with a 30 percent cut of those sales.

Apple and service providers like Hulu appeared to be headed for a collision earlier this year, when Apple banned links to out-of-app purchases. Apple's revised App Store policies, unveiled in February, banned links to external websites to purchase content or subscriptions, with a deadline to comply by June 30.

While that ban remains, Apple earlier this month backed down from a requirement that subscriptions also be offered within App Store software at the same price as it is made available elsewhere. That concession from Apple allows content providers like Hulu to continue to have iOS applications without the option to subscribe from within the software.

Instead, for now with Hulu, users must subscribe to the Hulu Plus service on their own, and can still do so by visiting the official website through the iPhone or iPad Mobile Safari browser. Then their username and password can be entered when the official Hulu Plus application is installed on the device.

Apple's change of heart came after one prominent content provider, the Financial Times, decided to create an HTML5-optimized website rather than comply with Apple's in-app subscription rules and provide a 30 percent cut to the iPhone maker. While Apple maintains control over App Store software, any sites loaded through the Safari browser on iOS devices can do as they please.

While Hulu has updated its application to comply with Apple's new rules, some other major services such as Netflix and Rhapsody still have "buy" buttons in their applications. And the Amazon Kindle software also includes a link to allow users to buy e-books for the Kindle platform through Amazon's website.

"Hard to believe that Amazon will get rid of its Kindle iOS apps altogether, since they're a key feature of the Kindle ecosystem," Kafka wrote. "But dropping the app's 'buy button' will be a real drag for the bookseller too."