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Apple refreshes subscription program in app store overhaul

Apple have announced a host of changes to its subscription service.

Although few of these seem groundbreaking, they are an indication that the company are taking a keen interest in the changes developers and users need to see in the Store.

Here, we pick through the most significant changes, and what opportunities they present to publishers with their own apps in the Store.

Auto-renewable subscriptions

Those who have fought for every subscription renewal can finally breathe a sigh of relief: auto-renewable subscriptions are now available to every app category. Even better, the revenue share after a year changes, so rather than holding to the traditional 70/30 split, Apple will only take 15% of the renewed subscription.

There are a number of key criteria that need to be met to unlock this particular deal – it excludes free trials and has a 60-day grace period – but in the long term, it will undoubtedly put more money back in the pockets of publishers and provide a more attractive proposition for subscription teams. The Verge have described the updates as ‘the most significant changes to the app store since its launch’.

Alongside the auto-renewable subscription changes comes another update: the ability to offer subscriptions to multiple apps. For publishers, this could provide a vital boost to downloads. Again, there are a number of conditions to be met, but this small change will make managing cross-brand subscriptions much easier for loyal readers. There is also potential to enhance cross-publication subscription sales.

Apple are also working on making subscriptions easier to understand for users. The interface for managing subscriptions in the app store will be clearer, and they ‘can easily move between service levels and choose to upgrade, downgrade, or crossgrade as often as they like’.

Search ads for apps

However, there is another impending development which has gone largely unnoticed but could have potential for publishers. For many years, app developers, brands and publishers have been completely at the mercy of the App Store’s algorithm for determining where their apps come up in searches, often seeing huge initial spikes in downloads followed by periods of stagnation.

Apple have estimated that 65% of all iOS apps are downloaded through search queries and have finally decided to introduce Search Ads for apps in the App Store.

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