App Developer Says Apple Rejected Update for Not Enforcing Auto Billing on Users

BY Asif Shaik

Published 1 Jul 2020

Apple App Store

Apple has been the center of a controversy regarding in-app purchase commissions and its App Store policies. While the company says that its policies take care of developers as well as users, the US and EU have started looking into the company’s policies. Now, an app developer has alleged that Apple turned down their app’s update for not enforcing auto-billing on users.

According to Down Dog, a yoga iOS app, Apple has rejected an app update because the app’s free trial version doesn’t automatically turn into a paid subscription after the free trial period is over. The app uses Apple’s App Connect Service but doesn’t enforce automatic billing on users. The app developers say that they don’t intend to cross a line and steal from users who forget to cancel the paid subscription within the free trial period, even if Apple wants to do so.

The tweet also has an image that references a part of the terms and conditions that developers making iOS apps must abide by. While the rule states that apps may offer free trials, which may turn into paid subscriptions, but it doesn’t appear to mandate it. The developers say that they’ve tried auto-charging in the past, but it leads to fewer users, a massive number of refund requests, and complete disbelief from users when they try to explain that Apple doesn’t allow in-app purchase refunds.

The Down Dog app is still available on the iOS app store, and the developer doesn’t say what they were trying to introduce with the new update. However, the company’s website says that buying directly from the website avoids the commission that the company has to pay to Apple and Google. It also mentions that buying directly leads to better prices for users. The app was removed from the Google Play Store in the past for allowing users to purchase subscriptions directly through the developer’s website.

Apple recently allowed developers to challenge specific rules and decisions. The Cupertino-based tech giant has been in a struggle with various developers and brands for charging 15% to 30% commission from their paid subscriptions. Fortnite, Netflix, Spotify, Tile, and Tinder have been vocal against Apple’s App Store policies.

Recently, Apple blocked an app update to the email app Hey, because the company didn’t integrate in-app purchases inside its iOS app. However, the company later allowed Hey developers to release the app update.

Our Take

While Apple claims that App Store policies help developers and users and create a level playing field, the decision to enforce auto-billing for subscription seems like a disadvantage for users who forget to cancel their trial periods, and that’s a bad experience. It’s time Apple brought reforms to its App Store policies and rules and make it fairer to both users and developers.