Apple turns on ‘In App Purchase’ for free iPhone OS apps

In an email to iPhone OS app developers today, Apple explained:

In App Purchase is being rapidly adopted by developers in their paid apps. Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions, and digital services.

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. 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.

Apple invites developers to visit the App Store Resource Center for more details about how they can add In App Purchases to their free apps.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mo” for the heads up.]


  1. I always thought that was odd, that free Apps couldn’t do “In App Purchases.” To me, this seemed important for content-based Apps: The Reader App is free and you can buy content to read.

    I also like the idea that Apps can now “upgrade themselves” via In App Purchases. So rather than having a “Lite” version and a “Full” version, you give away the “Lite” version and then have it upgrade itself when the user pays for it.

    Of course, I could see Apple losing about 10,000 Apps in the App Store since just about every game I’ve seen has both a full version and a Lite version.

  2. BlackWolf: I suppose all the good times have to end sooner or later.

    Free apps will remain abundant – they are an important driver for the App Store and for the entire platform.

    I for my part welcome it when the duplication of “lite” and “full” versions ends and I can decide when I want to upgrade and I can do it right within that app without hunting for the separate app.

  3. Vador: Now you will have a bunch of apps for “free” that don’t real do anything unless you in app purchase the functionality

    You won’t any more than today – for the same reason the separate “lite” versions today usually allow for real-world evaluation of the functionality.

  4. That should’ve been the idea from the get go. As soon as I first read about In App purchases, I thought it would mean the end of both lite apps and rampant app buyer’s remorse.

    A lot of us always wanted demo apps to try before we buy and now we finally have the solution. Get on this ASAP, devs.

  5. Many if the devs were doing this before anyway, with the work-around of using a link to the paid app, within the app store.

    This will be a much cleaner way of doing it.

  6. “Apple’s reneging on their word,here.”

    Good. That’s what you’re supposed to do when your original way of thinking is wrong. You re-evaluate, you adapt. I’m glad it didn’t take them two years before they finally got the picture.

  7. “I think Free apps should remain free… “

    I think you don’t understand this. Nothing of significance will change for users. Free apps will remain free. Paid apps will remain paid. The only difference will be that the developers won’t need to develop and offer two separate apps; one free (and limited, as a demo), one paid. They can now do what many developers do in the desktop world: give you a demo app to download for free, then pay inside the app to unlock features (or add more features, or whatever).

    None of the currently free apps (the ones that don’t have a paid twin) will be affected.

  8. I always thought Apple fans were a bit above the general population when it came to ethics and standards.

    I now realize I was wrong. I’ve never been so sick to read comments from a bunch of whiners who echo the general sentiment I’m seeing in the U.S. today… People want things FREE, they want them NOW, and they want someone else to PAY.

    Next, we’ll have a social program pushed through congress where people are demanding their god given right to have the Apps they want. Should we call the movement “App Purchase Reform”, or “Universal App Care for All”? Clearly the existing system is messed up and in need of fixing by the government.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.