Antitrust watchdogs sometimes criticize Apple for not allowing third-party payment methods on iOS apps. The company tends to defend itself with a number of counterarguments. These include its sincere interest in protecting its users when it comes to subscriptions. After all, only through Apple you have the guaranteed right to ask for support, request refunds, and effortlessly cancel a subscription on iOS. For the longest time, developers have been able to increase the prices of subscriptions offered through the App Store. Users would get a promot to agree on the price hike — otherwise, their subscriptions would automatically stop. This behavior is fair to both developers and users alike. The former category gets to charge more for whatever reason, and the latter one gets to decide whether the higher cost is worth it. Unfortunately, though, Apple now allows devs to increase their subscription prices without user confirmation.
Apple has announced that it will now allow developers to increase their subscription prices without needing users to opt in. Prior to this change, a subscription would stop when a user ignores the upgraded pricing prompt. Now, if a user ignores it, they’ll just automatically start paying the higher fee without agreeing in any form.
Currently, when an auto-renewable subscription price is increased, subscribers must opt in before the price increase is applied. The subscription doesn’t renew at the next billing period for subscribers who didn’t opt in to the new price. This has led to some services being unintentionally interrupted for users and they must take steps to resubscribe within the app, from Settings on iPhone and iPad, or in the App Store on Mac.
The iPhone maker argues that the original prompt was causing unintentional interruptions in services when users didn’t notice it and opt in. This only proves that even though Apple will be notifying users prior to the automated price increases, many of them will similarly not see these alerts. As a result, they’ll end up paying more without them necessarily noticing it.
The specific conditions for this feature are that the price increase doesn’t occur more than once per year, doesn’t exceed US$5 and 50% of the subscription price, or US$50 and 50% for an annual subscription price, and is permissible by local law.
The conditions will definitely make it harder for scammy apps to frequently raise their prices. However, it still isn’t foolproof, and most certainly this whole shift isn’t the most sincere towards users. Ultimately, Apple receives a significant cut from every subscription. So it’s to the company’s advantage having more users paying extra money through this new policy. To be fair, the Cupertino tech giant will be notifying users through iOS, iPadOS, and macOS apps, emails, and push notifications. Nonetheless, this change can still be disadvantageous to many users.
What do you think of Apple’s new subscription policy? Let us know in the comments section below.