Apple shared an update on its developer portal this week announcing a major change to auto-renewable subscriptions in apps. Going forward, Apple will allow apps to auto-renew during the next billing period even if the developer has raised the price of the subscription. Previously, auto-renew would automatically deactivate if the price went up.
Apple made a huge change to in-app subscriptions
iPhone and iPad owners previously had to opt in before a developer could apply a price hike. As Apple explains, this has led to service interruptions for users who weren’t aware that their subscriptions would terminate. Therefore, Apple is giving developers to chance to implement auto-renewable subscription price increases without the user’s input.
There will be a number of conditions for an app to auto-renew at a higher price. For one, the price hikes can’t occur more than once per year. The new price also can’t exceed $5 and 50% of the old subscription price for a weekly or monthly subscription. For yearly subscriptions, a price hike can’t exceed $50 and 50% of the old price. Finally, the price hike has to be allowed by local law, providing that ever comes into play.
“In these situations, Apple always notifies users of an increase in advance, including via email, push notification, and a message within the app,” the company writes, clarifying that no one should be caught unawares by the price hike. “Apple will also notify users of how to view, manage, and cancel subscriptions if preferred.”
If an app doesn’t meet any of the conditions listed above, every subscriber will still have to manually opt in. It isn’t clear why Apple can’t just give users the choice to universally opt in to subscription price increases or receive a notification every time.
Convenience isn’t the only factor
Personally, I don’t want my apps to quietly raise the prices that I’m paying for subscriptions without asking me first. It can be hard to keep up with all of my monthly payments, from my credit cards to the internet to my phone bill to streaming services. The last thing I need is for more of those payments to randomly increase throughout the year.
The fact that developers can’t raise the price more than once a year without cutting off auto-renew is a safeguard to ensure that no one takes advantage of this feature. Nevertheless, as obsessed as we all are with convenience, I’m not sure this is worth it.
You can read more about the change on Apple’s help site.