Monday, March 28, 2022

Special App Store Behavior for Disney+ Subscriptions

Max Seelemann:

iOS biz people… Subscription price increase as mere NOTICE instead of having to confirm, else subs expires.

Is this new behavior for everyone or exclusive to Disney+?

David Barnard:

“The [Apple Developer] program & access to the App Store is designed to be fair to all developers, regardless of size or influence.”

(This behavior is exclusive to Disney.)


[For] everyone else, the user have to accept the new price or the subscription terminates. With Disney, the subscription will auto-renew at the higher price if the user doesn’t take action.

In a few years, we’ll be told there was already an “established program” for this.

A consistent subscriptions experience is supposedly one of the advantages of the App Store. But Apple privileges its own services, too. If you unsubscribe from Apple Arcade or Apple News+ early (e.g. so you don’t forget to do so before it renews or because of uncertainty about how many days/hours of lead time you need to give it to avoid being charged) you’ll lose access immediately, whereas third-party apps are required to let you keep using the app/service until the paid period actually ends.


Update (2022-04-11): Nick Heer:

The problem is that Apple continues to peddle the lie that it treats every developer the same. That is completely untrue, and Apple’s representatives know it is untrue.

Nikhil Nigade:

Every one seems to be missing an important bit here: this was ready to go when Disney wanted it.

Did it ship with iOS 15.4? Prior to that?

Sarah Perez (MacRumors):

An Apple spokesperson did not dispute the accuracy of the developers’ claims we presented and said this was part of a pilot test.

“We are piloting a new commerce feature we plan to launch very soon. The pilot includes developers across various app categories, organization sizes and regions to help test an upcoming enhancement that we believe will be great for both developers and users, and we’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said.

This, of course, raises a number of questions — like how apps will qualify to use this commerce feature, who’s already in the pilot test group (raising their prices, perhaps unbeknownst to users), whether this has anything to do with the recent changes to “reader” apps and their ability to include external links, how Apple would police such a feature to ensure it was not used by bad actors and much more.

Nick Heer:

On its face, giving developers the ability to raise prices without explicit user confirmation seems extremely risky. Apple has faced many problems with developers abusing app subscriptions in the past. I am obviously curious about what systems will be in place to prevent even worse behaviour.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

What the hell, Apple?

Just to note that I unsubscribed from Apple Arcade the other day and can still access it until 22 April.

@Jamie Did it say April 22, or maybe some apps haven’t checked the subscription status yet? I just test-cancelled, and it says the service “will end immediately” and I will be “unable to play any Apple Arcade games.”

@Michael It says ‘Expires 22 April 2022’, then ‘If you resubscribe, your new subscription will begin on 22 April 2022.’ I’ve been able to download a game since unsubscribing. I’m in the UK; maybe there are local laws which means it’s different to how it works in the States.

@Jamie Ah, yes, I think I recall reading that Apple had different behavior to comply with laws in certain countries. It’s really disappointing that this makes the behavior less consistent and that they go out of their way to be more customer-hostile where allowed.

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