Spotify on iOS to Bring Back In-App Purchases, Beta Code Suggests [Updated]

Spotify appears to be bringing in-app payments back to its iOS app, based on code strings unearthed in the latest beta.

General Spotify Feature
MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris discovered the new code references to an in-app payment system, including an IAP checkout screen and purchase retry panels for failed purchases.

It's not clear what the IAP references relate to, but the fact that they are included is curious in itself. Spotify has not allowed customers to sign up for a Spotify Premium subscription through the ‌App Store‌ for the last seven years.

There is no mechanism for subscribing to Spotify through the Spotify app, as Spotify has restricted signups to its website in order to avoid paying Apple's fees. "You can't upgrade to Premium in the app," reads Spotify's "Premium" section in its iOS app. "We know, it's not ideal."

Over the years, Apple and Spotify have had a long running dispute over Apple's ‌App Store‌ policies, with multiple public conflicts over app and subscription fees and app rejections due to Spotify's attempts to skirt the up to 30 percent cut that Apple takes from purchases.

In comments made in November 2022, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek accused Apple of giving developers "the illusion of control," and said that the ‌‌App Store‌‌ is a "threat to the future of the internet" that denies consumers choice.

Ek also clashed with Apple over Spotify's audiobooks feature. Apple in 2022 rejected Spotify's audiobook update several times and ultimately did not allow Spotify to direct users to purchase audiobooks through an in-app email signup button.

Things are different over on Android devices. Since November 2020, Spotify has been be able to bill Android users directly in the Google Play version of Spotify without needing to go through the Google Play billing system.

This is because Spotify uses Google's "User Choice Billing," a feature that allows Android users to make purchases using the payment option they prefer. User Choice Billing is essentially an alternative billing option for in-app purchases, and it comes with a reduced fee.

Apple offers no alternative billing from the ‌App Store‌. There are two exceptions, however, including South Korea and the Netherlands. Regulators in these countries have forced Apple to allow some apps to use third-party payment providers.

With Google adopting options for alternative billing and continued regulatory pressure, it is possible that Apple will also fold and expand the Dutch and South Korea processes to other countries and app types. However, whether the IAP references in Spotify's code relate to such a plan is unknown. Another possibility is that Spotify is preparing to increase the price of its subscriptions to account for Apple's commission on in-app purchases.

Earlier this week, Spotify announced it will lay off about 1,500 employees, or 17% of its workforce, as the company seeks to downsize after a period of aggressive spending on podcasts and audiobooks. The latest round of cuts is the third in a year, with Spotify still facing annual financial losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Update: Spotify tells The Verge it has "no plans to switch IAP [in-app payments] on at the moment."

Tag: Spotify

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Top Rated Comments

StoneJack Avatar
27 weeks ago
What is a Spotify? A bankrupt company which doesn't pay artists?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iBluetooth Avatar
27 weeks ago
So, if this is coming back it means Spotify was loosing more by not allowing users to upgrade in the App! I guess now they can afford to support the HomePod and Apple Watch :)
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lounge vibes 05 Avatar
27 weeks ago
Oh yeah, Spotify.
Still no airplay 2 Support (promised in 2018)
Still no HomePod support (promised in 2020) and this one especially hurts because they wouldn’t stop complaining about Apple locking them out of the HomePod, and when Apple actually caves and allows third-party streaming services, Spotify is a no-show several years later.
No lossless audio support (promised in 2021)
No spatial audio/Dolby Atmos support (almost all of their competitors Have this now)

And yet they’ve still been increasing their prices.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Victor Mortimer Avatar
27 weeks ago
I'm still never giving those f***ers money, ever.

Hiding the preference to stop your stupid app from launching at login is inexcusable.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
27 weeks ago
I am really not sure what to make of Spotify at the moment.

They have a ton of subscribers, but the majority of them are on the free, ad-supported tier which doesn't really make all that much money. I also question the legitimacy of their subscriber count when you have the family and duo plans possibly inflating their numbers (a family plan counts as 6 paid users even if you aren't sharing it with that many other people).

Spotify has also spent more than $1 billion on podcasting, which doesn't seem to have paid off. The idea was simple - grab more listeners who spend more time on the platform and generate more ad revenue. But the problem is that podcasting isn't the easiest to monetise (eg: Joe Rogan), exclusives are costly, and their bet in going after celebrities and politicians fizzled when it turned out that not many people were interested in listening to the likes of Meghan Markle. Makes Apple look prescient for deciding to just leave podcasts alone and let podcasters do their own stuff.

In short, their move into podcasting clearly hasn't paid off, they appear to be fast running out of money, and they have maybe until 2026 before they start having to service the massive debt they took on during the pandemic.

So yeah, maybe Apple Music just might end up being the last man standing and Spotify finds itself being acquired by another platform like Microsoft.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sparkinstx Avatar
27 weeks ago
They're between a rock and a hard place. They don't want to pay the fees (whether all of Apple's fees are fair is debatable), and they just laid off 1,000 employees. I use Apple Music, as does my oldest daughter, but the other two daughters are longtime Spotify subscribers. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)