(Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash)If you’ve ever had an Apple App store subscription expire because you missed a notice about a price increase, we have good news for you. Apple is doing away with those annoying opt-in requirements and will just renew your subscription automatically. Of course, there are guidelines for how much the increase can be. There’s also limits to how often a price can go up, and other caveats. Still, it represents a big change in Apple’s subscription management policies.
Apple introduced these changes this week on its blog. It notes that currently, if you have a subscription and the price goes up, you’ll need to opt-in to renew at the elevated price. If you miss the notification, or ignore it, your service will not be renewed. According to Apple, this has lead to “some services being unintentionally interrupted.” To fix the glitch, Apple has just done away with the opt-in requirement, but only under certain circumstances. The new system allows developers to “offer an auto-renewable subscription price increase, without the user needing to take action and without interrupting the service.”
Here are the conditions in which this new policy applies. First, the increase can’t happen more than once a year. This prevents evildoers from, say, raising the price by one dollar every month with the hope that nobody would catch it. If a developer tries to raise it twice in one year, you will have to agree to it. Next, the total increase can’t be more than $5 and 50 percent of the subscription price. This one is a bit confusing, as it clearly says “and” meaning both conditions must be met. That would mean a developer could increase it beyond $5 as long as it was only 49 percent of the subsection price and you’d be none the wiser. This one also stumped The Verge, who reached out to Apple for clarification but hadn’t received it at press time.
There’s one more condition laid out by Apple. The increase can’t exceed $50 per year and 50 percent for an annual subscription price. Once again, there’s that pesky “and.” Once again, it could exceed $50 as long as that’s not 50 percent of its price? That’s ridiculous. That would mean the increase could be $50, as long as that by itself wasn’t more than 50 percent of the total price. Apple also notes that there’s one more condition: it must be “permissible by local law.” Um, no kidding Apple?
Now, to be fair to Apple, it says it will try its hardest to notify people of these price increases. That includes sending push notifications, in-app messages, and email. For most people, this should be sufficient notice of an impending increase. However, this just begs an obvious question: if this change was due to people missing notifications before, how will they get them now?