Consideration before having a Reader App?

In-App Purchase Overview

If you are not yet aware of the implications to IAP's (In-App Purchases) you may want to first check out Apple's developer documentation, and the biggest factor for most of our customers is taking into consideration the 15% fee/commission Apple and Google charge on every digital product sold.

But there are stipulations to this that causes the cost to vary slightly.

Digital Products? - Digital products would be a membership or unlocking coarse content, purchasing a badge or more credits to use in your platform... It could be Loot box's or gem bundles if you were playing a game. Apple Documentation

If you are setting Membership Subscriptions then you should definitely take the time to go over Apple's Subscription plan

You will notice most of this info refers to Apple guide lines as they are the most stringent. You should assume unless stated that Google is either equal to or less stringent... But still doesn't hurt to look into it as they change all the time.

Factors the affect App Stores commissions

In addition to conditions that were discussed above, commissions depend on several factors which are also covered in this Apple Documentation such as:

  • revenue (under or above $1M);
  • the type of operation;
  • the duration of the subscription for a specific user;
  • availability of free periods;
  • subscription gaps;
  • cancellation of the subscription;
  • cancellation of payment;
  • switching to another subscription;
  • participation in a commission discount program (important: you should be enrolled in the program);
  • whether the developer is an Amazon company – for which Apple has a reduced rate – or not.

Why Use a Reader App?

Taking into consideration the above information you may feel that you do not want to follow all the stipulations of in-app purchases...

That's fine that's why you would then use a Reader Only App. A reader only app is exactly what is says it allows your users that have purchased any content on your website and view it in the App. Sounds great right...

Again there are stipulations to this method, if you choose to do this then you can only show the content available to that user that they purchased from your site, You CAN NOT up sell, advertise, promote or even redirect a user back to your site from your app to purchase more content.

Hence why I bolded out and underlined the ONLY word.

In Apple’s eyes; Reader Apps allow users to browse previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video, etc. Netflix for example, is a good example of a reader app.


  • You can configure this directly through  BuddyBoss App > Integrations > LearnDash > Enable Reader App Compatibility.

For the BuddyBoss App, enabling reader app compatibility forces all users to only see the course they’ve purchased on the site. You cannot purchase them via the app directly, nor can you be prompted to purchase any. 

There is NO evidence that Apple won’t approve a “reader app” if it has social features. It’s not in their official guidelines, it’s not documented anywhere in their terms. But they are purposefully vague about what they consider to be a “promotion of alternative payment methods” so that their review team can use their discretion to decide whether your app passes the criteria.

BuddyBoss has specific “reader app compatibility” features built in to help make the process easier but each app is reviewed by the app stores on a case-by-case basis so it’s impossible for our publishing team to confidently give hard and fast rules for reader app approval.