In-App Purchases Now Available to Free iPhone Apps

A brief iPhone history lesson, if you will: with the release of OS 3.0 there was much rejoicing from devs who were interested in enabling in-app purchases. In other words, you’d be able to purchase subscriptions, extra game weapons, unlock new songs/levels, and so on and so forth.

But there was one restriction placed on these purchases: only paid apps were allowed to enable in-app purchasing. Apple’s alleged fear was that devs would disguise their app as “free” to lure in potential freeloaders and then make it so the app wouldn’t do much of anything without some sort of in-app purchase.

Which makes sense, in a way. But by the same token consumers could simply just delete the app before purchasing anything; it’s not like they would be forced into buying something against their will.

Perhaps there are some persuasive powers at work here, because today Apple announced that devs would be able to include in-app purhcases in free apps.

So what does this mean? Beyond stating the absolute obvious, it means that devs don’t have to waste time to write separate apps for the “lite” and “full” versions; rather, they include them both into the same app and have the full version only unlock when paid for.


This will do a couple things: reduce devs’ time in writing apps, and consequently lower manhours and reduce cost of making the app. We hope that in reducing the cost, paid apps will end up costing the consumer less in the App Store.

Perhaps this is a small story to some, but it actually has the potential to change the entire culture of the App Store. And for some 90,000 apps, that’s a huge story.

The text of Apple’s correspondence:

In App Purchase is being rapidly adopted by developers in their paid apps. Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions, and digital services.

You can also simplify your development by creating a single version of your app that uses In App Purchase to unlock additional functionality, eliminating the need to create Lite versions of your app. Using In App Purchase in your app can also help combat some of the problems of software piracy by allowing you to verify In App Purchases.

via Daring Fireball

Author: Brad Molen

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