Wednesday, January 17, 2018

App Store Trials: No More Free IAPs?

Markus Müller-Simhofer:

Apple no longer allows free IAPs? Oh wow. I’m glad we got ours approved before this change. This basically means the option to offer free trials via non-consuming IAPs is dead. It’s also no longer possible to offer upgrades via free IAPs. We use this for recent customers.

Drew McCormack:

Huh? I thought Apple were promoting this as a solution for free trials.

Markus Müller-Simhofer:

The biggest issues with trials via IAPs are: 1. Users have to click a system Buy button to get a free IAP 2. Users thought they started a subscription 3. No way to reset the trial after eg a year. 4. MAS IAPs have many issues, better to not encounter them right after installation

Max Seelemann:

This. And no way to help through support. No way to re-trial after major updates. No way to make promotions with extended trials.

Markus Müller-Simhofer:

In one WWDC session the presenter mentions that the new iOS DeviceCheck framework can be used to secure a free trial. Now that this framework is available, I can imagine that Apple would prefer it.

Apple is currently promoting apps with free trials, but these seem to be based on subscriptions (which aren’t allowed for all apps) rather than in-app purchases. It does seem like the DeviceCheck framework would make it possible to implement trials, with the tracking handled by your server instead of Apple’s. If this is in fact recommended, it’s a mystery to me why Apple wants trials to be handled out-of-band so that they are inconsistent from app to app.

There doesn’t seem to be a corresponding workaround for offering upgrades, either.

And, as always, it’s disappointing that news about major policy changes arrives through Twitter rather than official channels.

Previously: App Store Introductory Pricing, Omni’s IAP Trials and Upgrade Discounts.

Update (2018-01-24): Note that DeviceCheck is not available for Mac.

Update (2018-01-28): Markus Müller-Simhofer:

New Year resolution, write more radars: Family Sharing should support non-consumable IAPs (App Store, Mac App Store) Promoting Family Sharing for Freemium apps is confusing

And this is the reply to my request to remove the Family Sharing badge from our store page. So what should I tell customers who see the Supports Family Sharing badge on our store page and than are unable to share the IAP with their family members?

Update (2018-02-19): Ken Case:

I saw those reports last month, but we’ve had no trouble at all in the last year. (We did have to have a lot of conversations before we first introduced this approach in our apps in 2016.)


Also, back in September, one of our update was rejected under 3.1.1 for using IAP to activate a 14-day free trial. The reviewer said we should be using non-renewable subscription instead. We appealed and got it approved.

Update (2018-03-02): Junjie:

Big fan of upgrade pricing using IAP. By checking the App Store receipt date, @mindnode can even offer customers who recently bought their app free upgrade.


Glad you like our new business model. (As you are also a developer: It sadly has a few disadvantages like missing Family Sharing and VPP support)

See also: Core Intuition.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

The level of complexity Apple is willing to add to avoid just offering proper paid upgrades and other basic software storefront features that developers need (and have articulated time and time again) is absolutely amazing. IMO, that the text in this posting is a jumble of incomprehensible marketing buzzwords just goes to prove that.

Ten years in, and they are still jumping through the wildest of hoops they can to avoid addressing these self-inflicted shortcomings, all the while the pundits still wonder why (or scold) everyone won't embrace an iPad as the computer replacement that Apple says it should be.

"Can your app use IAP? Can you use trials? Can the IAP be used in the trial? Is the IAP free in the trial? Is the trial free? Didn't they used to allow free IAP? Where did it go? I heard form so and so on Twitter that their app was approved, but mine was not. This is how he said he got around having not being able to offer paid upgrades." ... All these and more.

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