Saturday, December 6, 2014

PDFpen 2 and Paid Upgrades via App Store Bundles

Michael E. Cohen:

To make upgrade prices possible, Smile has taken advantage of a new App Store feature for developers, the ability to sell software bundles (collections of multiple apps), along with another new App Store feature, the ability to offer older versions of their apps to purchasers who cannot run the latest versions of those apps on their devices.

Here’s how it works: By making PDFpen 2 require iOS 8, Smile can continue to sell the older versions of PDFpen for iOS (there is one such app for iPhone and another for iPad). And because developers can now offer software bundles, Smile has created two bundles for owners of previous versions of PDFpen. The first is a $19.99 bundle that contains both the old PDFpen for iPhone along with the new PDFpen 2 (a universal app that runs on both iPhone and iPad). The second bundle, for owners of the old PDFpen for iPad, includes both the old iPad app and the new universal app: this bundle costs $21.99.


Because the new PDFpen, from the point of view of iOS, is a new app and not an upgrade to an older app, you can install it on your iOS device without deleting the older version first. And, in fact, you want to do that because when you launch the new app it migrates whatever files the old app kept in its private document storage to the new app. Once that one-time migration takes place, you can delete the older app if you like.

This is a clever hack, but Apple should provide a real solution for upgrade pricing that’s friendlier for both users and developers.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

The ATPM guys had been dismissing the idea as being too complicated for the user and a source of confusion, but the benefits outweigh the problems IMO, and it was inevitable that more apps start using this for updates. If it becomes common place, then users will get used to it and it will become less confusing. Just like the IAP has become a common way to offer trials. I don't think Apple ever intended those features of the App Store to be used like this, but it looks like they have accepted this one as well now? Then, that's it, we won't get anything else proper for upgrade pricing, I am afraid. Sigh.

@charles You’re not wrong. I just don’t like that it makes the store experience even worse. When I search for PDFpen there are now six results, with the actual new app the last of them. App Store search is already a mess. Imagine what it’ll be like when more apps do this. (I presume you meant ATP. ;-)

Ah, yes, I meant ATP, ah! Marco Arment and John Siracusa were both very adament against it, but it may soon become the reality for more apps, simply because that's a way to make it work. Yes, it's a mess, and it's sad if that remains the only way upgrades are handled. I did not realize it would have an impact on search too, indeed a mess...

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