Free Trials for All Paid Apps Now Possible Thanks to Updated App Store Guidelines

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
7,446
8,508



Apple yesterday introduced updated App Store Guidelines, which bring a much-desired feature that both developers and customers have been wanting for some time -- free trial options for all apps.

A modified 3.1.1 rule in the guidelines says that apps are now able to offer a free time-based trial period using no-cost in-app purchase options that will temporarily unlock app functionality.

So, for example, you will be able to make a $0.00 in-app purchase in an app to unlock a free trial period that lasts for a set period of time, usually a few days to a week or two.

With this change, all apps in the App Store will be able to free trials to customers should the developers choose to implement the feature.

Prior to the guideline update, free trial periods for App Store apps were available only for subscription-based apps, where you had to agree to make a monthly or weekly payment to get access to a free trial.

A lack of free trials for apps has been a major complaint for both the iOS and Mac App Stores, and especially so on the Mac App Store, where apps are often more expensive and offer more extensive functionality that customers may want to test before making a high-dollar purchase.

Apple implemented several other changes to its guidelines, including restrictions on subscription apps that attempt to scam people out of money and new rules for remote mirroring apps like Steam Link.

Article Link: Free Trials for All Paid Apps Now Possible Thanks to Updated App Store Guidelines
 
  • Like
Reactions: adrianlondon

Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
134
264
Am I missing something or does this policy change seem like it means more apps will move to in-app purchases to unlock the full functionality of an app?

I kinda don't like that, because it prevents family sharing, and then I have to buy it twice for me and my wife.
 

Pirate!

macrumors member
Jan 17, 2017
39
35
I understand the concerns about in app purchasing, but I believe this will allow developers to offer two prices: one for individuals and a slightly higher one for family sharing. And I think that is fair and would be a great compromise.
Is that possible to do in app (offer a family price)? Could developers post two apps in the store, one for trials, one for purchase (basically use the free version for demos and “no ads” for purchase)?
 

cppguy

macrumors 6502a
Apr 6, 2009
534
737
SF Bay Area, California
It was always possible to create two apps, free and paid, but it was rarely done. It's also a pain to manage both, and you lose your data (game progress, etc.) when you upgrade. Let's say you buy it for yourself, later you decide to share it with the whole family, you may need a special data migration facility as well. Every time they fix a bug, they need to get both reviewed and published. Then my purchase history is going to show both apps, and it's not immediately clear which one is which, or why I have two copies. It's a little bit of a pain.
 

WannaGoMac

macrumors 68020
Feb 11, 2007
2,297
2,771
While loss of family sharing is sad, the vast majority of developers dont make enough in the app store to maintain their apps. This may help devs from smaller outfits to survive and flourish(?)
 

Dan Poynor

macrumors newbie
Jun 5, 2018
1
4

jeremiah256

macrumors 65816
Aug 2, 2008
1,283
970
Southern California
Is that possible to do in app (offer a family price)? Could developers post two apps in the store, one for trials, one for purchase (basically use the free version for demos and “no ads” for purchase)?
I may be missing something, but I don't see why not. The Curling Association releases a free or trial app that just gives news updates. In-app purchase for $50 gives you permission for one year to view one live stream at a time. Family purchase for $75 gives you three simultaneous live streams for three different devices/accounts.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pirate!

omihek

macrumors 6502
May 3, 2014
488
1,452
Salt Lake City, UT
Am I missing something or does this policy change seem like it means more apps will move to in-app purchases to unlock the full functionality of an app?

I kinda don't like that, because it prevents family sharing, and then I have to buy it twice for me and my wife.
Exactly, plus if you don't like the app after the free trial is over, it follows you around forever and ever in your app purchase history. They should just offer a free trial directly from the App Store that automatically ends and deletes the app (from your device and any history it might be stored in) unless you go back in and make the purchase.
 

Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
134
264
Exactly, plus if you don't like the app after the free trial is over, it follows you around forever and ever in your app purchase history. They should just offer a free trial directly from the App Store that automatically ends and deletes the app (from your device and any history it might be stored in) unless you go back in and make the purchase.
Doesn't Android sort of offer this functionality? I've really been flirting with the idea of the Pixel 2 XL (I also like to play with the different OS's from time to time), after getting a Google Home especially. Sorry, side tracked, but I think this would be the more efficient way to offer this functionality. Every app on the App Store feels like it has that little note now, "In-App Purchases".

My super scientific extra accurate sample test provides results:
2 of the top 10 Paid Apps have IAP
2 of the top 10 Free Apps have IAP
6 of the top 10 Paid Games have IAP
7 of the top 10 Free Games have IAP

So, on average based on my sample size:
20% of Apps that are not games have IAP. (or people are wholeheartedly rejecting the subscription model)
65% of Apps that are games have IAP (I'm splitting the difference between the 2)

I'm not expecting to pay for an App and wham bam I expect to be able to use it forever and keep getting free upgrades. I expect to be able to have the App supported at least for the next year or 2 if I am lucky. Any bug fixes or features that are pushed out to me after that time, I should expect to pay for.

Maybe that's just me, and I reallllllly went on a tangent, but this is where I think Free Trials should come into play.
 

ThisGuyBen

macrumors newbie
Jun 5, 2018
1
0
Free trials will be great, but we still struggle with offering subscriptions to schools who purchase our app via the VPP - where they can't do in-app purchases.
 
Last edited:

Glassed Silver

macrumors 68020
Mar 10, 2007
2,098
2,539
Kassel, Germany
IAPs aren't as easy to backup though...

Oh well, don't use the App Store for paid software on Mac anymore anyways besides the stuff I already have.

Glassed Silver:ios
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,566
14,057
Central U.S.
Now I’ll be able to avoid a bunch of crap I shouldn’t have paid for and discover a bunch of cool apps that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. This is great for the customer and quality app devs everywhere. Can’t believe it took this long. As described, however, it seems a little cumbersome vs. just making a simple free trial button with the developer able to set a fixed length.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pirate!

mgauss7

macrumors regular
Apr 23, 2009
207
47
Miami



Apple yesterday introduced updated App Store Guidelines, which bring a much-desired feature that both developers and customers have been wanting for some time -- free trial options for all apps.

A modified 3.1.1 rule in the guidelines says that apps are now able to offer a free time-based trial period using no-cost in-app purchase options that will temporarily unlock app functionality.

So, for example, you will be able to make a $0.00 in-app purchase in an app to unlock a free trial period that lasts for a set period of time, usually a few days to a week or two.

With this change, all apps in the App Store will be able to free trials to customers should the developers choose to implement the feature.

Prior to the guideline update, free trial periods for App Store apps were available only for subscription-based apps, where you had to agree to make a monthly or weekly payment to get access to a free trial.

A lack of free trials for apps has been a major complaint for both the iOS and Mac App Stores, and especially so on the Mac App Store, where apps are often more expensive and offer more extensive functionality that customers may want to test before making a high-dollar purchase.

Apple implemented several other changes to its guidelines, including restrictions on subscription apps that attempt to scam people out of money and new rules for remote mirroring apps like Steam Link.

Article Link: Free Trials for All Paid Apps Now Possible Thanks to Updated App Store Guidelines
This is an honest step. About two months ago I purchased a $20 App which didn't work for me and I have to contact Apple and answer questions. Pathetic. Now it will be a pleasure to recommend great Apps to all my friends, now that I know that if they see benefit they will use it and if they do not they will not be harmed. It will increase the market tremendously.
 

TracesOfArsenic

macrumors 6502
Feb 22, 2018
258
328
This seems like a sloppy way (from a user's UX) of doing trials. If I understand it correctly that means any app that wishes to allow a demo will have in-app purchases now. At least from my point of view, I give preference to apps that don't have IAPs when I'm browsing for something I don't know about. Now so many more apps will have that little icon/message and people will have to check if it's just the timed demo. Yuck.