Apple’s beta testing feature that lets developers automatically charge users for increased subscription prices – TechCrunch

Apple may change how iOS subscriptions work when there are price increases. Recently, some developers noticed that the streaming service Disney+ was apparently only telling users about upcoming price changes and then selecting them automatically. This is different from the way the subscription price increase is handled. In most other cases, the customer is presented with options to agree to the new higher price or visit the Manage Subscriptions page to cancel the service. If customers ignore this warning without clicking the OK button, they will be automatically opted out.

The developer recently discovered the discrepancy with the way Disney + works Max Silliman, who claimed to have received a notice about a streaming device price increase that only displayed a large “OK” button, with fine print letting users know if they wanted to cancel, they could click on a link to review their subscription. There has been some question as to whether this was a so-called “dark pattern” that essentially tricked users into agreeing to an agreed-upon price by clicking “ok”, or whether Disney would automatically charge users the new, higher price even if “okay” It is pressed up.

Silliman thinks this is the latter because he had it too It was received Primarily Apple email Flags The price will change soon, and it will be chosen at a higher price. While the original email was in German, he said Translator as saying: Your subscription will be available from March 19 at €8.99 per month until canceled. €8.99 was the new higher price.

As the news spread on Twitter, many of else Persons replied They have also noticed similar issues with the price increases for their streaming subscriptions. Instead of having to sign up and agree to a price change, as usual, the new system asked them to opt out if they didn’t want to pay the higher price.

Disney has adjusted pricing for its streaming service over the past year, including a $1 increase to Disney+ announced in March 2021 in the US. Then the service went from $6.99 per month to $7.99 per month, or from $69.99 to $79.99 for users on an annual subscription. Other international markets have seen similar and smaller increases at different times.

While $1 isn’t a huge or annoying change, the concern is that unscrupulous developers may use this feature to raise prices by much higher amounts without users directly agreeing to the new fees.

He. She This change appears to have largely flown under the radar because it hasn’t been fully rolled out at this time — and because users likely don’t pay attention to small increases or emailed receipts from Apple.

So far, Apple Official developer documentation states this not How App Store subscriptions should work. The documentation states that customers have to manually approve new rates through the rate approval sheet which is automatically displayed in the developer app or else the subscription will be automatically canceled on the next renewal date.

David BarnardiOS developer and now developer defends subscription management startup RevenueCatI decided to test this change out with the help of a friend to see the new “auto-subscription” system available to all developers. But their tests indicated that when developers raised subscription prices, users were still presented with a screen asking them to click a button.Agree to the new price“As usual, he told TechCrunch. Gives another option to users.”Subscription management,’ which may bring them to a screen where they can cancel, as well as usual. (See below).

They did not have the ability to automatically enable users for price changes.

Image credits: Screenshot from the test showing the standard experiment

This appears to be evidence that Disney+ has a special agreement with Apple to work differently when it comes to price increases.

TechCrunch reached out to Apple to ask why Disney+ has a different system that doesn’t align with how in-app purchases work, according to Apple’s own documentation.

An Apple spokesperson did not doubt the accuracy of the developers’ claims we made and said this was part of beta testing.

“We are testing a new commercial feature that we plan to launch soon. The beta includes developers across various app categories, organization sizes, and regions to help test the upcoming improvement that we think 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 – such as how apps qualify to use this commerce feature, who’s actually in the beta testing pool (raising their prices, perhaps unbeknownst to users), and whether this has anything to do with recent changes to “reader” apps and their ability to include external links How will Apple monitor such a feature to ensure it is not used by bad actors and much more.

Apple declined to share more details beyond its statement.

This situation is also in line with how some developers receive special treatment. Despite Apple’s claims that its App Store is a level playing field where all developers play by the same rules, history has proven that’s not always the case — just as the House Antitrust Subcommittee found that Apple and Amazon negotiated a special deal for Amazon Prime Video app, or when Apple revealed how some developers were allowed to participate in a program where they could offer in-app video rentals without paying commissions.

Of course, beta testing isn’t the same as a corporate deal that goes behind the scenes. But it is unclear how long these “testers” have the advantage of raising prices without the threat of automatic cancellation and how long such testing will last before other developers receive the same benefit.

News of the pilot arrives at a time when Apple’s commission structure is under attack from lawmakers and regulators in global markets. Apple has already reduced commissions for small developers and news apps who agree to participate in Apple News. It had to offer developers in South Korea and the Netherlands the option to use third-party payments due to new government requirements. Over time, as more laws like this are introduced, Apple may become concerned about commission losses. The new program – which no longer automatically cancels subscriptions when users don’t agree to price changes – could help boost App Store revenue from further drops.

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