App Store Developers Won’t Need User Consent before Auto-Renewing Subscription at Hiked Prices

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 17 May 2022

App Store Unsplash

On May 16, Apple silently informed developers of a new subscription feature through which customers will automatically be charged when an app’s subscription price is hiked. This arrangement is different from how app subscriptions work at present.

Presently, subscribers are informed of any changes to the pricing. Apps have a dedicated “Agree to New Price” interface through which customers can agree to pay the revised price. If they disagree, their subscription is automatically canceled.

However, Apple’s new system will allow developers to auto-renew subscriptions at revised prices without the users’ explicit consent. Customers will be informed of the hiked pricing, but they won’t need to agree to it, and the subscription can continue. Essentially, the system has been transformed from an opt-in to an opt-out system.

The first thought that comes to mind is the possibility that malicious apps could abuse this facility and hike prices sharply on a regular basis. Thankfully, the iPhone maker seems to have foreseen such scenarios. It says that developers cannot hike prices more than once every year. Moreover, the hike cannot exceed $5 or 50 percent of the subscription price, or $50 and 50 percent of an annual subscription price. If the hiked price exceeds these limits, app users will have to accept the revised price before being billed. Otherwise, the subscription won’t auto-renew.

“Auto-renewable subscriptions are a great way to let people access content, services, or premium features in your app. And Apple continues to set the bar in making it easy and transparent for subscribers to view, cancel, or manage their subscriptions. Our comprehensive approach includes providing email, push notifications, and in-app messaging to let subscribers know about upcoming changes and how to manage their subscriptions, or cancel if they prefer.”

Apple promises to notify users of price hikes through emails, push notifications, and in-app alerts. The company says it will also offer instructions to manage and cancel active subscriptions.

Considering the nature of this change, we suggest you pay close attention to in-app alerts and pricing change notifications. Although they may come only once a year, app developers no longer need your consent to charge you the hiked rates.

[Via Apple]