Apple Opens iPhone In-app Purchases to Free Apps

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.]