Skip to main content

What Apple's App Store Changes Mean for You

Yesterday (June 8) Apple announced major changes to its app stores that affect apps for iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and Apple TVs. Most notably, all apps will be allowed to offer automatically renewing in-app subscriptions, a feature formerly restricted to apps that served media content, such as GQ, Spotify and Netflix.

Image: Shutterstock / ymgerman

Image: Shutterstock / ymgerman

If you're wondering how these changes will impact you, we've got some answers on what more subscriptions mean for apps.

What does this mean for apps I've already downloaded?

Unfortunately, Apple hasn't answered this question yet. Primarily, expect to see subscription offers throughout the apps you already use. This shift is more than likely as it may lead to increased profit, and Apple is offering a greater piece of the revenue pie to developers when subscriptions last over one year (from 70 percent to 85 percent).

You can expect to see subscriptions pop up in games, as developers had no problem making those titles overly complicated by adding in-app purchases. For example, the racing title Asphalt 8 could create a subscription plan for getting new courses and cars every month.

We hope Apple will enforce a policy that makes it so apps you've already paid for still retain functionality, because a user revolt may occur if new subscription offers break apps.

MORE: 100+ Great iOS Games for iPhones and iPads

What if an developer raises an app subscription price?

Fortunately, you won't get burned by a higher fee. Whenever a developer raises the price of a subscription, Apple will inform all subscribers, and ask if they accept the raised price. If you "do not agree or take no action," you won't be charged again, as subscription will expire at the end of its current cycle.

If you're currently in the middle of an in-app subscription and the developer wants to raise prices on that tier, they will have the option to grandfather you in. This way you'll pay the price you used to, and they won't need to worry about alienating you as a customer.

What happens when I cancel a subscription?

This is another area where Apple still needs to spell things out. Currently, cancelling an in-app subscription means the will no longer work at the end of the monthly billing cycle. HBO NOW will stop streaming shows and ads return to your Spotify playlists. Periodicals such as Esquire allow users to re-download the issues released during the subscription, even after you're no longer paying.

But what if you cancel a service like Adobe Creative Cloud, where you store content on a server or on your device? Will your files be erased at the end of the billing cycle? Apple and developers will need to explain these terms and conditions clearly once the program launches this fall.

How much are these subscriptions going to cost?

That's up to individual app developers, but expect to see a wider variance than before. Apple will allow for more than 200 price points for in-app subscriptions.

Anything else I need to know?

The "Featured" section of the app stores will no longer show the apps you've already downloaded, and developers will get the option to pay to advertise apps throughout the store. 

Image: The Verge

Image: The Verge

iOS users should get ready for more ads for other apps, as Apple's letting developers place advertisements in search results. The ads will look similar to search results, but feature a small blue "Ad" icon.

Also, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller told The Loop's Jim Dalrymple that its adding a 3D Touch option for iOS apps on the home screen, so you can more easily share app recommendations.