- Apple will remove the decentralized social media app Damus from its App Store.
- Apple took issue with its Bitcoin Lightning-backed payment feature.
- Web3 apps can use a workaround to bypass App Store moderation and fees iOS devices.
Tech giant Apple’s steep App Store fees don’t mix well with Web3 apps. Damus faced the ire of Apple when its Bitcoin tipping feature failed to cut the Tech Giant in. However, there is a workaround that Web3 apps can use to bypass App Store’s fees and moderation.
Apple Threatens Damus Over Bitcoin Tipping Feature
Damus, a decentralized social network based on Jack Dorsey’s Nostr protocol, uses a Bitcoin payment feature known as “zaps.” Zaps refer to a Bitcoin Lightning-backed payment mechanism, enabling people to tip content creators on Nostr client sites.
According to an email exchange with the App Store moderators, Damus was informed that zaps violated Apple’s payment guidelines. The emails stated that an updated, compliant app must be submitted within 14 days. Otherwise, Damus will be removed from the App Store.
Critically, zaps bypass the 30% fee on all purchases through apps on its App Store, which means that Apple doesn’t get its cut from the payments.
Apple’s Fees Stir Controversy with Tech Giants, Web3 Apps
Apple’s App Store policies have been a subject of controversy among both tech giants and crypto and Web3 companies. For instance, both Elon Musk’s Twitter and Spotify claimed Apple’s fees were unfair to competitors.
Crypto companies have also decried the App Store policy. In particular, when Apple announced a new policy that levies a 30% fee on all NFT sales in 2022. In December 2022, Coinbase said that Apple was blocking the update of its digital wallet until the exchange gave it a 30% cut on NFT sales.
Some crypto gaming companies managed to evade the tax. In May 2023, Web3 gaming platform Axie Infinity launched a lite version on the App Store.
Is There a Workaround for Web3 Apps Like Damus on Apple’s iOS?
The crypto community perceived Apple’s decision to be negative but expected. Apple has made its policies clear before, users pointed out. Still, others mentioned workarounds, which would enable users to run Web3 apps on their iOS devices.
Short of moving to Android, users can rely on Progressive Web Applications (PWA). PWAs are web applications that behave like native apps, providing a user-friendly interface and offline functionality.
Users can install these web apps on a device’s home screen, bypassing the need for App Store approval. For instance, the developers of Wormhole, a web app that allows users to share large encrypted files, chose to release their app exclusively on the web.
Users can run PWAs in any browser, and can even add the website on their home screen using Safari for iOS.
On the Flipside
- In February, Apple pulled Damus from the App Store in China, following a complaint by Chinese officials. The removal came just one day after the app launched on the App Store.
- In 2021, Apple pulled social media app Parler from the App Store, following the January 6 riots.
Why This Matters
Apple’s iPhone is the biggest mobile platform in some of the most developed regions in the world, including the United States. Its decisions have enormous influence over the market.
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