Apple has updated its App Store rules.
Apple updated App Store rules to make it so subscriptions can auto-renew without your explicit permission, even if the developer has raised the monthly or yearly price.
Before the rule change, users would have to manually decide on a subscription renewal if it came with a price bump; right now, that won’t necessarily be the case, though they will quietly notify you about the price change before it happens. Apple says it’s making the variation to avoid users unintentionally losing access to a subscription because they missed an opt-in message.
Auto-renewable subscription price increase
According to Apple’s Monday evening post, there are specific conditions that developers will have to follow if they need to offer what the company is calling “an auto-renewable subscription price increase.” For starters, it can only be so big — Apple’s rules say that if a developer increases a weekly or yearly subscription fee by more than 50 percent, and that difference is over$ 5, it doesn’t modify. For an annual subscription, devs can still raise the price by 50 percent but can’t lift it by more than$ 50 USD without requiring an opt-in.
Auto-renew without having to opt-in.
Here are some examples of what that could look like. Let’s say I have a subscription that’s $ 60 a time. The developers could raise it to $90 ($60 plus 50 percent), and it would auto-renew without me having to opt-in.
However, Apple’s wording leaves things a bit unclear what if there’s an app that costs $10 a time and goes up to$ 60 a year? Apple’s rules say, verbatim, that consent is needed if the price raise is
More than 50 of the current prices, and the price difference exceeds approximately $5 United States Dollar (USD) per period for non-annual subscriptions, or$ 50 USD per year for annual subscriptions.
We are reading that both conditions would have to be true to take an opt-in. But the example scenario seems so ridiculous that it’s hard to accept what Apple intends. We’ve sought clarification on this point and will update you if we receive any.
The price rise has to be permissible by local law
The price can only be raised once per year without opt-in, which should help prevent scummy apps from slowly increasing their price by a buck or two every other month. Apple also says the price rise has to be “permissible by local law,” though that one was probably a given.
They will warn Users about upcoming renewals’ prices by email.
However, you’ll still have to opt-in to the price increase. Otherwise, your subscription will lapse If any conditions don’t meet. 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 could quickly turn Apple’s logic on its head if users were missing those renewal opt-in notices. Wouldn’t they also ignore these new price change warnings? But it does sound like they’ll be pretty in your face.
When does the change come?
We’ve seen confirmation that this change was coming — last month, TechCrunch reported that Apple appeared to be trying this change with a Disney Plus price increase.
Developer Max Seelemann also posted a screenshot in March to show what one of the notifications looked like, though it’s not clear whether this is the final design. At the moment, Apple confirmed that it was “piloting a new commerce feature we plan to launch very soon,” and said it would provide details.
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