Apple Opens iPhone In-app Purchases to Free Apps

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Apple reversed its "free is always free" stance on the App Store on Thursday by opening the option for in-app purchases to free applications. Previously, developers had to charge a fee for their iPhone and iPod touch applications if they planned on selling additional content through the app.

The move is good news for companies that offer subscription-based products -- think magazines and news papers -- since they can now offer a free reader application and let users buy individual issues or full subscriptions in-app.

"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," Apple said in an email to developers. "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."

This is a feature many iPhone and iPod touch application developers have been wanting for some time, so expect new and updated apps that take advantage of the feature soon.

[Thanks to MacRumors for the heads up.]



I think this is really about the tablet - imagine a free “newspaper” with clickable ads that allow you to purchase or download the item advertised- an ereader that allows you to buy books directly and get them right away, without being shunted to some poorly organized website to find the book you want again. How about a restaurant app that allows you to view the menu, order food, pay for it and have it delivered wherever you are or will be.The possibilities are endless - apple doesn’t say anything about the limits of what you can buy within an app.  I don’t think it’s just about buying another version of the free apps at all, or that will be just a sideline .
  Incidentally, those who want the full macos on a tablet need to think about sitting on the sofa, running a vnc client on the ‘tablet’, and using all the apps and data on the mac or pc in the basement or attic or wherever. You don’t need the overhead, short battery life, or problems of an unsecured, unlimited app OS attempting to utilize bandwith on a fragiie wireless network -INMHO, all the current wireless networks are fragile and traffic limited, not just ATT- live in a semi-rural area, used them all and have experienced this personally - until someone puts high powered , extremely high bandwith satellites in orbit so everyone, everywhere can get RELIABLE, FAST wireless access, the ‘cloud’ remains vapor for people like me.


I’m worried that this might make it difficult to tell how much an app really costs.  Will we see everything claiming to be “free” and then hitting you with costs after downloading?

Constable Odo

I’d never thought about the clickable ad purchase.  That sounds interesting.

What I’m really wondering is whether you’d be able to purchase pornographic materials through apps.  If it’s just something like a storefront app that allows you to purchase things like pornographic magazines, movies or photos that could be downloaded directly to your iPhone/Touch/Tablet, in theory I guess you would be able to do that.  I’m not interested in that usage, but I’m just curious if Apple would allow that sort of thing. The app itself wouldn’t be pornographic, it would merely be a portal to pornographic material.

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