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Apple updates App Store rules to allow developers more communication with customers

In August, Apple settled a class action lawsuit with some developers, despite continuing to battle Fortnite maker Epic Games.

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Apple's found itself battling with developers over how it manages its App Store.

James Martin/CNET

Two months after reaching a settlement with some developers in a class action lawsuit over how it manages its App Store for the iPhone and iPad, Apple's officially changed its rules to allow app developers to highlight alternative purchasing options outside apps, and also to communicate more directly with customers.

The new rules, which Apple codified in changes to three of its guidelines, allow developers to request name and email information from users, so long as it's optional and not a required part of using their app. Apple also said it would not allow developers to collect information about kids. 

As part of those emails, Apple will also allow developers to direct people to alternative payment methods, such as a website where someone can buy a subscription connected to an app.

"The App Store is a safe and trust place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great opportunity for developers," Apple said in its update published Friday.

The move marks Apple's latest effort to adjust how it manages its App Store to respond to criticism that it's too tightly controlling of what developers can do. And since the App Store is the only place Apple allows iPhone and iPad owners to download apps from, these developers say they're too restricted in what they're allowed to do on mobile devices.

One of Apple's biggest developer critics is Epic Games, maker of the hit online battle game Fortnite. Epic has already chalked up one loss against Apple in court, where a US district judge largely sided with the iPhone maker, saying it hadn't violated most antitrust laws. Both Epic and Apple have begun their appeals.

In the midst of this, last month Apple struck a separate agreement with Japan's Fair Trade Commission to allow "reader" apps like Netflix to add links for signup websites off the App Store. That change will go into effect next year and apply to developers around the globe providing access to magazines, newspapers, books, music and video.