Apple's new EU rules will give users a completely new way to pay for iPhone apps: Patreon

Delta on iPhone playing a SEGA Genesis game
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Apple’s new EU App Store rules have opened up a whole new way to pay for iPhone apps, backing them via Patreon. 

The revelation comes by way of Riley Testut’s AltStore. Last week, Testut shared a first look at installing apps in the EU on iPhone without the App Store. Now, in an interview with Techcrunch this week, Testut has revealed that his store will include apps supported by Patreon, using a custom integration. 

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that lets users sign up for regular monthly or yearly subscriptions to different media modes including podcasts, music, videos, and software. Now, the power of Patreon and Apple’s new EU rules are combining to give users a new way to subscribe to apps in the latest version of iOS 17, available now on all of Apple’s best iPhones

Patreon-backed apps on your iPhone 

As Techcrunch reports, “Instead of relying only on ads, paid downloads or in-app purchases to monetize, the AltStore will allow developers to use its custom Patreon integration to market their apps directly to consumers.” While Apple’s own App Store does let developers offer subscriptions by way of in-app purchases, you can’t pay for them anywhere else and Apple takes a cut of the proceeds. According to Testut, AltStore will launch with two apps, his video game emulator Delta (which is free), and clipboard management app Clip, which “will require a pledge of $1 or more on the crowdfunding platform Patreon.” Beta versions of Delta and Clip are also said to be in the pipeline, with a $3 per month Patreon pledge required for the privilege of early access. Testut didn’t mention whether this would preclude paying for apps outright. 

As you might expect, Testut says developers will be able to use this Patreon integration to distribute their own paid apps in the future, creating an entirely new iPhone app business model not previously available to developers. Patreon integration could solve one of the key issues developers face in creating software, successful monetization, and upfront revenue. Currently, App Store developers are faced with either charging for their apps or offering in-app subscriptions, which can make it difficult to get an app off the ground. The freemium option (a free app with in-app purchases), or using adverts to generate revenue, can cheapen the experience for users. 

Launching an app via Patreon will give users at least some guaranteed revenue, ensuring they receive revenue from all of their users. Outspoken App Store critic and developer Steve Troughton-Smith said on Mastodon that the model “gives you an entirely different, personal relationship with your users, and lets you use the same reward system you use for videos, blog posts, merch, etc.” Developers will be able to use Patreon’s tiers to offer higher-paying users exclusive features like early access, extra functionality, or even extra goodies outside of alternative app stores. Finally, the move will give developers some insulation against Apple’s new Core Technology Fee, which charges developers a 0.50 cent fee on all new downloads over a one million install threshold.

Testut told Techcrunch AltStore is ready to launch, but is waiting on final approval from Apple, which means we could see it any day now.

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9