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A new feature addition in the Tesla app for iOS is violating Apple’s App Store in-app payment policy. However, despite the Cupertino company’s strict rules, the app is still in the App Store, suggesting Apple’s tolerance for this rebellious act from Tesla. Both companies remain mum about the revelation, but the answer about this might be hidden in the previous meeting between the CEOs of the two companies.

Apple is known for implementing strict rules regarding third-party apps in its App Store, but it seems Tesla is an exception. According to Gizmodo’s Thomas Germain, one new feature has been added to the Tesla app’s “Connectivity Packages. Called “View Live Camera,” this should allow iOS customers to access the in-car camera of their Tesla EV using their iPhones. However, the report noted that the feature does not offer Apple’s In-App Purchase as a payment option, adding users can only use their credit card.

The package unlocks a number of functions and perks including a satellite view map in the car’s console, a web browser for your car’s dashboard, and several others. Normally, this feature falls under an exception to Apple’s policy. Apple only makes developers use the In-App Purchase system for features that users “consume” within an app on the iPhone itself, but the company doesn’t charge for features used on other hardware. For example, you use Tesla’s web browser in your car, so the company can use any payment system it wants to unlock the feature. But the View Live Camera connectivity feature only works in conjunction with the Tesla app. Per Apple’s policies, Tesla would need to offer the iPhone’s In-App Purchase tool for payments. In reality, though, you can only pay with a credit card, per Gizmodo’s tests.

This means the feature is directly violating App Store’s in-app payment policy. The interesting part is that Apple has always been clear about observing a strict policy to ensure app creators follow the rules. For instance, as the report noted, Apple pushed this in the Damus app (due to Bitcoin tips), which was kicked out of the place. Epic Games was also hit by Apple’s punishment after it introduced a web link in its Fortnite in-game payment to help its users save some cash. Apple blocked the app in App Store, and Epic responded by suing the Cupertino giant. The judge in the case favored Epic, but Apple is now trying to undo this by appealing to the US Supreme Court. Yet, surprisingly, even if Tesla is openly disrespecting Apple’s “rules” and Elon Musk tweeting choosing “going to war” than paying a commission to Apple, the iPhone maker seems cool about it. The reason? We don’t exactly know. But the meeting between Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook in November 2022 probably hides the answer.

As the report pointed out, Musk inexplicably became friendly with Apple after the meeting as if he was tamed. There are no exact details of what was discussed between the two, but you are free to guess how it is influencing Apple’s relationship with Tesla (or Musk in general) today. Other third-party creators and developers will see this as unfair, but there’s hope it will apply to all apps soon. Regulators in the EU are already pushing Apple to allow app sideloading on its devices, which could also lead to changes in Apple’s in-app payment policies in the future. Japan’s government also drafted regulations regarding the same matter. With this, Apple might soon find itself opening its ecosystem to other apps outside App Store and even allowing huge changes in in-app payments. But, of course, knowing Apple, it won’t accept these regulations easily as it could affect its trillion-dollar App Store economy.


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