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Apple's App Store is changing, starting with subscriptions

Engadget Engadget 8/06/2016 Andrew Dalton

At next week's WWDC, Apple is set to unveil some major changes to the way developers and users interact with the App Store. According to Apple's senior VP of Worldwide Marketing (and perennial WWDC keynote presence) Phil Schiller, Apple is working to improve everything from the app review experience to the discovery process. But the most notable change is a shift in the business models to allow for subscriptions from any kind of app.

As The Verge reports today, the 70/30 revenue split between developers and Apple will stay in place, but apps that keep a user subscribed for more than a year will see that split shift in their favor to 85/15. "Now we're going to open up to all categories," Schiller told The Verge, "and that includes games, which is a huge category."

According to LoopInsight, developers will be able to choose "one of over 200 subscription price points" and will be able to create region-specific pricing. If a developer chooses to raise a subscription price, users will have to re-authorize the price increase. The new system will also effect current subscription-based apps.

The shift looks enticing for developers, who will now be able to offer their apps and games for a monthly fee rather than a single price up front. And with iPhone sales finally on the decline, the arrangement also allows Apple to turn existing users into even more lucrative revenue streams.

Also per Schiller, Apple will be introducing display ads into the iOS App Store search results for the first time. Although Apple has previously stated that Featured positioning in the App Store is "not for sale," Schiller now feels confident they've built a system that will work for everyone. The auction system behind the ads, Schiller said, will be "fair to developers and fair for indie developers, too."

As for the app review process, Schiller says that the turnaround time has dropped to the point where a full half of the apps submitted to Apple are reviewed in the first 24 hours and 90 percent are reviewed within two days.

Finally, Schiller is looking to drive even more traffic to the App Store, to the point where it becomes a daily visit for most users. One of the ways Apple plans to do that is to add a "Share" button to every app's 3D Touch menu on the home screen. As you might expect, tapping the share button allows you to shoot off a download link on your social network of choice.

The Verge

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