Apple has updated its App Store rules to make it so that subscriptions can automatically renew without your explicit permission, even if the developer raises the monthly or annual price. Before changing the rule, users will have to manually sign up for a subscription renewal if it is accompanied by a price hike; Now, this will not necessarily be the case, although you will be notified of the price change before it happens. Apple says it’s making the change to help avoid a situation where users inadvertently lose access to the subscription because they’ve missed the enable message.
According to a post by Apple on Monday night, there are specific conditions that developers have to follow if they want to offer what the company calls an “auto-renewable subscription price increase.” For starters, it can only be very large — Apple’s rules state that if a developer increases the price of a weekly or monthly subscription by more than 50 percent, and that difference is more than $5, he will not qualify. For an annual subscription, developers can still raise the price by 50 percent, but they can’t raise it more than $50 without having to sign up.
Here are some examples of what it could look like: Let’s say I have a subscription of $60 per year. Developers can bump it up to $90 ($60 plus 50 percent), and it will renew automatically without the need for a subscription. If I have a $15 monthly subscription, and the developers want to bump it up to $22, then in theory, I should go for that — it’s less than a 50 percent increase, but above the $5 cap.
However, Apple’s wording leaves things a bit unclear: What if there was an app that costs $10 a year, and goes up to $60 a year? Apple’s rules state, verbatim, that approval is required if the price increase is:
more than 50% of the current price; And
The difference in price is about $5 per period for non-annual subscriptions, or $50 per year for annual subscriptions.
Read it literally, it means it Both Terms must be correct to require subscription. But the typical scenario seems so absurd that it’s hard to believe that’s what Apple intends. We’ve reached out for clarification on this point, and will update if we receive any.
The price can only be raised once per year without a subscription required, which helps prevent fraudulent apps from slowly increasing their price by a dollar or two every two months. Apple also says price increases should be “allowed under local law,” although that may have been taken for granted.
If none of these conditions are met, you must still subscribe to the price increase, otherwise your subscription will terminate. Apple says users will be warned about upcoming automatic renewals with price changes by “email, push notifications, and in-app messaging.” It’s worth noting that you can easily turn Apple’s logic on its head: if users miss subscription renewal notifications, wouldn’t they also miss these new price change warnings? But it looks like it’s going to be relatively in your face.
We saw evidence that change was imminent – last month, Take Crunch You mentioned that Apple appears to be testing this change as Disney Plus prices increase. Developed by Max Seelemann too Post a screenshot In March a notification appears, although it is not clear if this is the final design. At the time, Apple confirmed it was “trying a new commercial feature that we plan to launch very soon,” and said it would provide details. It seems that this day is here.
iOS biz folks… Increase subscription price just as a notification instead of having to confirm, or else subscriptions will expire.
Is this new behavior for everyone or exclusive to Disney+? pic.twitter.com/zt7c15QcTA
– Max Silliman (@macguru17) March 24, 2022
The screenshot from March shows that near the OK button there is a link that says “To find out more or cancel, see your subscription.” Apple’s message on Monday says it will also “inform users how to view, manage and cancel subscriptions if preferred,” a promise that appears to be fulfilled through this link.
In my view, Apple is definitely making the trade-off here between consumer friendliness and convenience. There will probably be a lot of people out there who would be happy that they wouldn’t have to go and re-subscribe to something just because the price went up by $1 and they lost the enablement claim.
Personally, though, I’d like to know where every dollar is going – and since I almost always opt for annual subscriptions, it looks like I’ll be on the lookout for apps whose prices can go up quite a bit (this $60 subscription wasn’t a default example ). There is an easy solution to this: Let users choose Whether or not they want to increase their auto-renewal rates instead of deciding whether or not to. In my opinion, this would just be a toggle in the App Store settings that says something like “always ask for enable if the price goes up”, and turning it on will make it look like that change never happened.
Apple did not immediately respond to the edgeQuestion about whether there are plans to add such a switch.
Or, if Apple wanted to be really consumer-friendly, it might make them make subscriptions that don’t auto-renew by default. As my colleague Sean Hollister noted in his article on how Apple can show its interest in App Store users, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has an apt quote (although at the time he was talking about privacy):
Ask them. Ask them every time. Have them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of you asking them.
With this rule change, Apple is one step away from it.