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Apple has a 'whitelist' of developers who can access unique App Store features

Credit: Apple

Last updated

Apple has a list of whitelisted developers with access to additional App Store subscription features, as revealed by court documents and Apple executive testimony in the Epic Games v. Apple trial.

The email thread started with a message from Fischer to Lin about a tweet concerning automatic App Store subscription cancellations. Fischer asked how Hulu could "switch people from IAP to Hulu billing," adding that App Store chief Phil Schiller saw the tweet and "wants to know what's going on."

In response, Lin said that Hulu is part of a set of developers with access to a special refund and cancellation feature.

"Hulu is part of the set of whitelisted developers with access to subscription cancel/refund API," Lin wrote. "Back in 2015 they were using this to support instant upgrade using a 2 family set up, before we had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in."

During Fischer's testimony, the App Store VP was asked whether Apple gives special access to features to some developers and not others. Fischer said no, but added that sometimes Apple tests features with a small group of app makers before providing it all developers.

At other points during Fischer's time on the witness stand, he was asked about an email that describes Fischer as feeling "strongly" about not featuring competitors on the App Store. He denied that claim, saying the person who made the comment was misinformed.

"We have promoted apps that are competitive to Apple apps since before I joined the App Store team in 2010, and we continue to not only distribute but to feature and promote apps that are competitive apps in the store," Fischer said.

Fischer also expanded on the working relationship between Epic Games and Apple prior to the dust up over "Fortnite." For example, Epic Games asked Apple to change the policy to allow in-app gifting. Apple did so, and made the change available to all developers. Fischer also noted that Apple "dropped everything we were doing and scrambled" to promote the Travis Scott concert within "Fortnite," claiming that it was a "really cool concept."

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