Apple Now Letting Developers Automatically Charge for Some Subscription Price Increases
Apple today informed developers that it is implementing a new subscription feature that will allow customers to be charged automatically when an app's subscription price goes up, which is not the way that subscriptions work at the current time.
Right now, customers must explicitly agree to a pricing change when the cost of a subscription increases through an "Agree to New Price" interface. If a customer does not tap on agree when the warning comes up, their subscription is automatically canceled, but that's changing.
Going forward, developers will be able to increase the price of a subscription and have it auto renew, with customers simply being informed rather than needing to outright agree. Apple says that "under specific conditions and with advance user notice" developers can offer an auto-renewable subscription price increase without the user needing to take action and without their subscription being impacted.
There are specific limits that Apple is placing on developers to make sure this functionality is not abused. A pricing increase cannot occur more than once per year, and it cannot exceed $5 and 50 percent of the subscription price, or $50 and 50 percent for an annual subscription price.
Apple says that it will always notify users of the pricing increase in advance, via email, push notification, and a message within the app. Apple will also provide instructions on how to view, manage, and cancel subscriptions.
With this update, under certain specific conditions and with advance user notice, developers may also offer an auto-renewable subscription price increase, without the user needing to take action and without interrupting the service. The specific conditions for this feature are that the price increase doesn't occur more than once per year, doesn't exceed US$5 and 50% of the subscription price, or US$50 and 50% for an annual subscription price, and is permissible by local law. In these situations, Apple always notifies users of an increase in advance, including via email, push notification, and a message within the app. Apple will also notify users of how to view, manage, and cancel subscriptions if preferred.
In situations where prices increase more often than once a year or exceed Apple's thresholds, subscribers will need to opt in as usual before the pricing increase is applied. Apple says that this will also happen in territories where the law requires it.
Apple has already been testing these subscription changes, which essentially turn subscription price increases from an opt-in system to an opt-out system. Back in April, some developers noticed that when Disney+ increased its price to $7.99 per month, the app sent out a notification that was an alert rather than an opt-in choice.
At the time, Apple said that it was "piloting a new commerce feature," describing it as an "enhancement that we believe will be great for both developers and users." With this change, App Store users should make sure to pay attention to the warnings received in apps, through push notifications, and through email to ensure they don't miss subscription pricing increases.