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Last year in November I linked to an article about in-app purchases no longer being shown on App Store listings. It turned out that was just a bug, which was quickly fixed. However in my write up, before it was fixed, I defended the change! 😂 I've continued to think about this over the last couple of months and I still think that removing that list of IAPs would be a good idea. I also think the individual product pages for apps are overdue for a rethink given the way that many apps make money these days.

Take a look at this screenshot. Is an Annual Subscription £35.99, £26.99, £30.99 or, err... £26.99... again? 🤷‍♂️ If I decide I want to buy it, how do I do that? What even is an "Annual Subscription"? What am I subscribing to exactly? As a consumer this is an awful experience. Yes, if your app is simple (and probably new) you might get away with something more like this, but over time you'll eventually end up here.

Yes, it's possible to feature in-app purchases or subscriptions on your product page. This is good, and I don't know why more developers don't do it as it's pretty rare. However, it's still not great for subscriptions, which is increasingly where developers are heading for more sustainable business models.

Let's take a closer look. This is a product page with a featured subscription. I now know what it does because there's a brief description, but how much is it? I have no idea. All I know is that there's a free trial. Maybe I go and look at the IAP list, only to find this mess. No, I need to find the tiny, light grey on white "button" (I use quotes because it really doesn't look like a button!) to find the information I need. Given how tough Apple are on the design of in-app subscription screens, this really isn't good enough.

The App Store is our primary storefront, and the only way for our users to install apps. What gets presented on that page is really important. I'm not arguing that we should get full control of the page, we don't want MySpace! 😂 But I am arguing for a re-design to make it possible to present a reasonable indication of how much an app will cost in an obvious way now that the price can't just be the "Buy" button text anymore.

Of course, we unfortunately live in a world where people will try and exploit any change for evil and there are probably terrible things people will try to do to exploit any changes that Apple do make. But this is a curated App Store, if people do bad things with it then Apple should force them to fix it! That's one of the reasons we have app review.

I’ve given the story based redesign of the App Store plenty of praise since it launched in 2017 and it deserved it, it's great. But it feels like it's time to give the individual product pages some attention. Maybe it's in progress and will happen this year?

Dave Verwer

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