Apple Issues New Developer Guidelines to Subscription Services

Apple has released updated guidelines for developers that run subscription-based apps. Much of the new content relates to the way prices are displayed.

The monthly price a user would pay for premium features must be clear, and more prominent than the savings they would make by buying a longer subscription (e.g. one year).

If apps are offering free trials to users, they must be open about the duration of such trials and the amount the service will charge once the trial has expired.

Apple has provided sample screenshots and sample text to make clear what kinds of interfaces are acceptable.

Subscription models are becoming increasingly popular as a means to drive revenue – a change which has occurred in part thanks to a push from Apple. In autumn 2018, representatives from the tech giant met with leading app developers to encourage recurring payments according to Business Insider.

While the transition has been successful in many cases, the App Store may have inadvertently incentivised dark payment patterns. A ringtone app charging over $40 per week and a wallpaper app charging over $250 per year were two examples of this highlighted by Forbes in October.

One year ago, eharmony was made to pay out $2.2 million in a settlement after failing to make its subscription model clear to singles in California.

TechCrunch notes that users may hit saturation point with subscriptions soon – having to make monthly payments for Spotify, Netflix, Audible and many other platforms can create a situation where consumers delete some subscriptions to make room for others.

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