Apple’s new rules allow apps to automatically raise subscription prices – TechCrunch

Surely, this will not be abused? Along with the release of the iOS 15.5 update, Apple has introduced a new set of rules to control which subscriptions automatically renew in the App Store. Now, instead of asking users to agree to any subscription price increases, developers will be able to put up a price increase without the user’s explicit consent. This feature seems somewhat anti-consumer, as it allows developers to simply inform customers that they will be charged more, rather than asking the customer to subscribe to the higher prices.

TechCrunch first reported the news that Apple was beta testing this software last month, when it emerged that Disney+ subscription customers were simply told their price was going up but were not asked for their consent. Apple then confirmed that this was the result of a “new commercial feature” it was planning to launch soon, which it said would be “great for both developers and users”.

It’s definitely great for developers! For users, maybe not so much.

Apple’s position on the matter is that it can save consumers the hassle of automatically canceling their subscriptions just because they haven’t seen the notification or email asking them to subscribe to the price increase.

“This has inadvertently interrupted some services for users and they must take steps to re-subscribe within the app, from Settings on iPhone and iPad, or in the App Store on Mac,” the company explained in its announcement Monday.

However, the flip side of this argument is that those same customers who missed the approval notice will most likely be the same customers who will now miss the notification that their subscription will increase in price.

Those customers who don’t keep a close eye on their inbox and tend to miss Apple emails may include; Those who keep their iOS notifications silenced or grouped into summaries using Apple’s own notification management tools; Plus those who rarely use a particular subscription based app so much that they probably would rather have their subscription expire rather than automatically opting in to paying more.

There is also an argument here that this change could enable unscrupulous developers and fraudsters to take better advantage of their victims. Although Apple does review apps for compliance with its App Store policies as part of its audit process, it has struggled for years to curb subscription fraud. There are still a number of apps running on the App Store that take advantage of fake reviews to give their app a well-received look in order to scam users out of their money.

At an antitrust hearing last year, Congress questioned why it could not locate fraudulent apps and scams, given that they were “easy to identify.” Instead, the broader public was only learning from the scams through “open-source reporting and journalists,” as Georgian Senator John Ussoff noted at the time. Apple objected, insisting that it invested millions in strengthening the security of its App Store.

But today, subscription scams keep popping up. Unfortunately, this new policy change may only increase the damage done by these bad actors.

Apple, at least, has included some protection for the new software so that the feature cannot be blatantly abused. It says that developers cannot increase prices more than once a year. The increase also cannot exceed 50% of the subscription price, and the difference in price cannot exceed $5 per period for non-annual subscriptions or $50 for annual subscriptions. It must also be permitted by local laws.

The company also says that users will be warned in advance of the price increase via email, a push notification and an in-app message. Apple will tell users how to view, manage, and cancel subscriptions if they don’t want to pay more. It is not clear how Apple will monitor this program to ensure that fraudsters do not increase prices more frequently than are permitted or at higher rates that may require approval. We hope Apple will keep a close eye on apps that adopt this option.

Apple may have chosen to enable the policy to meet the needs of larger app developers who are pushing for new regulations that allow them to collect subscription payments without having to use Apple’s in-app purchase system, which would require sharing a review with technology. giant. These companies want to control their own customer relationships and manage their own payments – control that can include occasional price increases without having to take back the approval of their entire subscription base each time.

While some developers may welcome Apple’s latest change to save themselves the trouble of having to gather approval for lower price changes, others will likely be concerned about the potential for abuseā€”particularly because abuse could have long-term negative effects on the desire to Consumers to subscribe. To applications in the first place.

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