A recent update from Amazon has made it easier for Apple customers to buy or rent movies from its Prime Video app. Before, customers using the Prime Video app from an iOS device or Apple TV would have to first purchase or rent the movie elsewhere -- like through the Amazon website or a Prime Video app on another device, such as the Fire TV, Roku or an Android device. Now, Prime Video users can make the purchase directly through the app instead.
The changes weren't formally announced, but quickly spotted once live.
Amazon declined to comment, but confirmed to TechCrunch the feature is live now for customers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
The change makes it possible for Prime Video users to rent or buy hundreds of thousands of titles from Amazon's video catalog. This includes new release movies, TV shows, classic movies, award-winning series, Oscar-nominated films and more.
This is supported on a majority of Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch running iOS/iPadOS 12.2 or higher, as well as Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K.
Amazon for years has prevented users from directly purchasing movies and TV shows from the Prime Video app on Apple devices. That's because Apple requires a 30% cut of all in-app purchases taking place on its platform. To avoid fees, many apps -- including not only Amazon, but also Netflix, Tinder, Spotify and others -- have bypassed the major app platforms' fees at times by redirecting users to a website.
Since the news broke, many have questioned if Amazon had some sort of deal with Apple that was making the change possible -- especially because it didn't raise the cost of rentals or subscriptions to cover a 30% cut.
As it turns out, it sort of does.
Apple tells TechCrunch it offers a program aimed at supporting subscription video entertainment providers.
"Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits — including integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on," an Apple spokesperson said. "On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription," the spokesperson noted.
It remains to be seen if Amazon will extend Apple the same courtesy on its Fire TV platform, by allowing Apple customers to rent or buy movies directly in the Apple TV app there.
Amazon's adoption of this program is notable, as it comes at a time when Apple is under increased scrutiny for alleged anti-competitive behaviors -- particularly those against companies with a rival product or service -- like Prime Video is to Apple TV+, or Fire TV is to Apple TV, for example.
Amazon called attention to the new feature in its Prime Video app, which now alerts you upon first launch that "Movie night just got better" in a full-screen pop-up. It also advertises the easier option for direct purchases through a home screen banner.
Update: John Gruber discovered that non-Prime subscribers could make purchases and rentals too, but instead of going through Amazon's system for those transactions, they'd function as an in-app purchase that goes through Apple Pay. Seems like everyone wins here.