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Apple bars price references on new titles appearing in the App Store

Why it matters to you

Many apps are marketed with misleading buzzwords in the title, or involve the free download of apps that include in-app purchases.

Apple has long discouraged developers from referencing price in the titles of their apps on the App Store. Of course, this didn’t stop everyone from doing it. But now it appears the company has begun forcing software makers to change their habits. According to VentureBeat, Apple’s marketplace now prevents the publishing of any app with “free” in the title, as well as the inclusion of other price references.

Developers are now met with an error message if they attempt to name their product in such a way, asking them to “please remove any references to [the] app’s price” from its name, “including any references to [the] app being free or discounted.”

According to the report, only new apps going up on the store or updates to existing apps are prohibited from using those buzzwords — so you’ll still be seeing many apps, especially older ones, with “free” in the title for quite some time.

Annoying as it may be to have to browse through a barrage of seemingly endless, similarly titled apps with “FREE” listed in all caps, it is an easy way for developers to publicize that information. It also makes it impossible to read the app’s name or become aware of its existence without also knowing that it doesn’t cost you anything, and you can download it right away. These are crucial benefits to users on the App Store, where everyone’s vying for a way to stand out.

It was also a way to sidestep Apple’s redesign of the download button to say the much less-enticing “get” instead of “free.” The change was instigated several years ago in response to pressure from European lawmakers, who alleged that the language was misleading users into downloading apps that were loaded with in-app purchases, and was fooling children in particular.

Going forward, references to price won’t only be forbidden in names, but also icons, screenshots, and previews, according to Apple. The company is directing all developers who’d like to advertise discounts to simply mention it in the app’s description.