Apple recently announced the addition of the external link account entitlement as an option for “reader” apps. Reader apps are defined as “apps that provide one or more of the following digital content types — magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, or video — as the primary functionality of the app.” We expect that most Pugpig apps would fulfil this criteria, but please note that there are a multitude of other criteria, detailed in the official documentation. The most notable of these criteria is that the app may not offer any in-app purchases.
Such apps are now able to offer a link out to a website where the user can create and/or manage their account. This website must be owned by the developer of the app (you). This link will then open the site as a modal within the app. In other words, you’re able to directly enable customers to create an account in your own systems in order to access content in the app. Previously this would have been grounds for rejection when submitting the app to the App Store.
In order to utilise this functionality you’ll first need to apply for this entitlement by filling in a request form. At this early stage it’s unknown how long it will take for this to be granted and how strict Apple will be in determining eligibility.
From the point of view of actually implementing the functionality in your app, there are several changes we need to make. As such, full support for the external link account entitlement is on our development roadmap, with our current plan being to introduce this alongside support for (the presumed) iOS 16 later this year. This is because certain elements of the integration will be replaced by operating system level support in iOS 16, and any apps with an interim solution would need to be resubmitted within 30 days of the release.
We’d rather focus on doing it properly, alongside monitoring the rollout of this feature across the app industry, hence it not being something that can be added to your Pugpig app just yet.
Our current expectation, based on previous experience, is that iOS 16 will be released in September 2022. However, we’ll continue to monitor the situation and update our customers as necessary. In the meantime, we recommend you read the official documentation explaining this change, as it offers a lot more detail about eligibility and how it will work, as well as visuals of what the modal will probably end up looking like.