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App Store PSA – subscription price hikes without consent

The App Store is a marvel, providing the infrastructure to surface millions of apps to users while providing amazing opportunities to app developers. But it’s not without its faults, and plenty of criticisms have been aimed at Apple’s App Store policies over the past few years.

The latest of which relates to a quiet change to how subscriptions work, and its a worrying one. Currently, developers are required to ask subscribers for permission before increasing prices, with customers having to explicitly opt in to remain subscribed in the event of a price hike.

But the new system means that if an app developer adjusts their subscription pricing, all existing subscribers will be automatically moved to the new rate. To stop developers abusing the system, there are limits to how much the price can increase  and apps can’t raise prices more than once a year.

Apple says this new rule is to stop “services being unintentionally interrupted for users,” but it remains hard to see how an opt-out system benefits consumers.

That said, rest assured that Apple will continue to notify customers ahead of price increases, making it easy enough to cancel a subscription if you don’t want to pay extra. But thanks to this subtle change, if you miss the message or don’t act quickly enough, you’ll still end up paying more.