Skip to main content

Apple wants app developers to be a lot clearer about subscription costs


It’s sometimes tricky to know where you are with in-app subscriptions, and before you know it you’ve signed up to something without realizing the full cost. It’s often down to the sometimes sneaky way that some developers incorporate details of such purchases into their software, leading to more sales than they might otherwise have achieved.

For those with iPhones and iPads, Apple is now having a stab at addressing the issue after updating its guidelines to encourage developers to be more up front with cost information when it comes to in-app subscriptions.

Spotted by 9to5Mac, the new information states more plainly that the actual billing price of a subscription must be clearly shown to those using the app.

Apple says, for example, that the total amount for an annual subscription should be shown prominently on the display so the user knows exactly how much they’ll be paying when they hit the buy button. The company says that while it’s fine for the app to present a breakdown of the equivalent annual price, or the savings when compared to weekly or monthly subscriptions, “these additional elements should be displayed in a subordinate position and size to the annual price,” adding, “This ensures that users are not misled.”

In addition, for extra clarity, Apple suggests to developers that when describing the methods of charging and subscription management, they could use text similar to the following:

Payment will be charged to your Apple ID account at the confirmation of purchase. The subscription automatically renews unless it is canceled at least 24 hours before the end of the current period. Your account will be charged for renewal within 24 hours prior to the end of the current period. You can manage and cancel your subscriptions by going to your App Store account settings after purchase.

To cancel a subscription,  hit Settings on your iOS device, then iTunes & App Store, and then tap on your Apple ID at the top of the display. Next, hit View Apple ID and enter your password or fingerprint when asked. Then it’s a case of tapping Subscriptions to reveal the ones you have running, and selecting any that you want to cancel before confirming your decision.

Apple also insists that an app with a free trial must clearly show how long the free period will last and state that a payment will be automatically charged to the user’s account once the trial is over — if they choose not to cancel the subscription beforehand.

We’ll have wait to discover the impact — if any — of Apple’s revamped developer guidelines, and also if Apple will take steps to enforce its rules.

Subscriptions have become a popular way for app developers to monetize their work. Other options include selling the app in a one-off purchase, or giving it away for free and generating revenue via ads.

During a subscriber’s first year of service, a developer receives 70 percent of the subscription price at each billing cycle, minus applicable taxes. After a subscriber accumulates one year of paid service, a developer’s net revenue increases to 85 percent of the subscription price, minus taxes.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Apple Sports app looks to rule live scores and stats on iOS
The Apple Sports app on an iPhone.

As if what it's done with MLS Season Pass wasn't proof enough that Apple is serious about sports, today we have another example. Enter Apple Sports, a new app for iPhone that aims to be the only app you'll need for live sports scores, real-time stats, and more.

Apple Sports is available today in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Inside it you'll find the likes of MLS, NBA, college basketball, Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga, Liga MX, Ligue 1, and Serie A — and that's just for starters. We're still in the offseason for sports like Major League Baseball, the NFL and college football, and the National Women's Soccer League and WNBA, but you'll see them all in Apple Sports once games begin.

Read more
Apple Music just got a cool feature you won’t find on Spotify
Apple Music Replay screenshots via Apple.

The Apple Music Replay feature gives you a rundown of which songs and albums you've listened to on the service every year. But now, it's getting a makeover that will make it more handy. Rundowns are being offered every month, allowing you to see your favorite tunes during the past 30-plus days — as well as how often you've listened to those titles.

The new monthly Apple Music Replay feature is only available through the web on the Apple Music Replay website, which is unfortunate, but unsurprising. The annual Apple Music Replay launches every December and is also a web-only feature.

Read more
iPhone Flip: what we know about Apple’s first foldable phone
Folding iPhone concept from iOS Beta News.

In the past few years, Samsung has become one of the leading manufacturers of foldable devices, including the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. Though it's not the only brand making foldable devices, it offers the most mainstream and available options, especially in the U.S. That leads to the question of whether Apple will follow suit with a foldable iPhone — or even an iPad.

There have been long-standing rumors that Apple could be working on such a device, including a foldable iPhone, which we'll call "iPhone Flip" for now. Apple's a secretive company, so there may very well be at least some research and development taking place on such a device. But, of course, this continues to just be all speculation for now. From the latest news, rumors, and reports, here's everything we know so far about Apple's folding iPhone.
iPhone Flip: design and display

Read more