Apple is making huge changes to how much you'll pay for apps

Apple is making huge changes to how much you’ll pay for apps

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iPhone
Get ready to pay for more app subscriptions.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Starting next week, Apple will roll out major changes to the App Store that will effect how — and how much — you’ll pay for some of your favorite apps.

In a rare interview ahead of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple VP of Marketing Phil Schiller talked about the company’s “renewed focus and energy” on the App Store. He also outlined key changes that will be unveiled during Apple’s WWDC keynote on June 13 in San Francisco.

Among the many changes coming to the App Store are search ads for apps, better revenue-sharing for developers, and new incentives for app makers to switch to subscription-based models.

More App Store subscriptions

Apple plans to open subscriptions to all apps. In the past, the iPhone maker only allowed apps for news, cloud services, dating and streaming to offer a subscription that’s billed automatically through iTunes.

“Now we’re going to open up to all categories,” Phil Schiller told The Verge, “and that includes games, which is a huge category.”

Part of the plan to get developers to push subscriptions involves Apple finally loosening its stranglehold on its 70/30 revenue split. After the changes take effect, if developers maintain a customer for more than 12 months, Apple will drop its take down to 15 percent, giving developers a small pay raise.

The extra revenue generated from subscriptions will be great for Apple and indie developers, which have been calling for changes for years, claiming it’s difficult to run a sustainable business under the current setup.

Bad news for iPhone and iPad owners?

iPhone users may not like the changes quite as much. After being fed free apps for years, the cost to keep the best apps on your iPhone and iPad will raise considerably. Even $1 monthly subscriptions for a couple favorite games, productivity apps, news apps, photography apps, fitness apps and more will quickly add up to a sizable monthly bill many users might not be willing to pay.

To make consumers happy, Schiller revealed Apple has built in some protections, like the ability to opt out of a subscription if the price is raised and a revamped App Store interface to manage subscriptions.

“We’re trying to protect the customer from surprises in pricing,” Schiller said.

Here come the App Store ads

Internally dubbed “Subscriptions 2.0,” the revamped revenue model isn’t expected to roll out until this fall, when the company also plans to unleash search ads for apps in App Store search results. The company resisted paid ads for years, but Schiller says the time is right.

“We’ve thought about how to carefully do it in a way that, first and foremost, customers will be happy with,” Schiller said, claiming the ad auction system will be “fair for indie developers too.”

Full details of the changes will be revealed next Monday during Apple’s WWDC keynote at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Apple will also announce iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3.0, tvOS 10, a Siri SDK and a lot more. Cult of Mac will be on hand to liveblog the entire event, so you’ll get to enjoy the Apple mania with us next week.