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FAQ: How Apple’s new App Store subscriptions affect you

Glenn Fleishman | June 10, 2016
Apple’s pre-WWDC surprise announcement of changes to the App Store’s subscription policy has left a lot of questions in the air. We have answers for many.

Apple’s Schiller gave the example of enterprise apps, which are continuously developed with new features rolling out. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that any app that has its approach with subscriptions approved can rely entirely on subscription features to provide functionality. This is in contrast to the policy for non-subscription apps, which have to be useful on their own merits when downloaded before any IAPs are purchased.

Some apps might opt to switch to continuous development, releasing minor and major app upgrades under the same app name, instead of the pseudo-upgrade process used today of releasing major upgrades as effectively a new, separate app. This would allow you to pay on an ongoing basis for apps you use all the time, or pay on demand to use apps just when you need them, canceling the renewal when you’re done. It might provide a way for otherwise expensive apps to offer limited time usage, much as Adobe does with its Creative Cloud subscriptions, which can be for as little as one month.

If a developer raises the price for a subscription I have, do I automatically start paying more?

Developers can now opt to let existing users keep the price they are paying for as long as they keep the same tier of subscription. Or they can decide to raise the price for everyone.

If a developer grandfathers older pricing for existing users, you’ll pay that rate indefinitely unless you upgrade, downgrade, or crossgrade (to a different set of options). Then you’ll pay whatever new users pay.

However, if a developer raises the price for everyone, Apple will inform you. You can either turn down the price increase or perform a “pocket veto” by not responding at all, and the subscription ends at the completion of your current period. If you accept the new price, your subscription continues and you are charged the new price at your next renewal.

If I stop paying for a subscription, does an app stop working?

With current content-based subscriptions like Netflix, you can lose access when you stop paying. But some periodicals and other apps let you keep any content that was released during your subscription period and still use the app to read it, listen to it, or view it later, like with The New Yorker.

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With content library apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Apple Music, once you let your subscription lapse, you lose access to all the content. With periodical apps like magazines and newspapers, you get to keep the content you “bought” during the subscription period even after you stop paying. Credit: Apple


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