Apple maintains an important balance with subscription apps. It wants to incentivize users to subscribe with new discounts and bundles while preventing apps from using predatory tactics to make users buy expensive subscriptions. With the latest addition to the iOS 13 beta, it’s working on helping users avoid accidentally staying subscribed to deleted apps. This will be an important shift for apps with subscription services and may impact their App Store Optimization.
The new iOS prompt is simple but useful. When users try to delete an app, the phone will check if they’re currently subscribed to its services. If they are, it will provide a prompt asking: “Do you want to keep your subscription to this app?” Users can then select to keep it or go to the Manage Subscriptions section, where they can cancel their subscription safely before removing the app.
Never seen this alert before – Apple now tells you if an app you're deleting has a subscription still active. Good move.— Federico Viticci (@viticci) June 18, 2019
(Taken on iOS 13 beta 2.) pic.twitter.com/WU57nS8Ziv
Apple already requires apps with subscription services to provide clear details on what users will be charged and how they can cancel the subscription. According to Apple’s guidelines, the app’s signup screen must include:
• Subscription name, duration, and the content or services provided during each subscription period
• The following information about how users are charged and can manage the subscription:
- Payments are charged to the user's Apple ID account at confirmation of purchase.
- Subscriptions automatically renew unless the user cancels at least 24 hours before the end of the current period.
- The account is charged for renewal within 24-hours before the end of the current period.
- Users can manage and cancel subscriptions in their account settings on the App Store.
In spite of that, many users still forget to manage their subscriptions or assume that deleting the app will automatically cancel their subscriptions. This results in users who are surprised and upset to discover they’re still being charged for an app they’re no longer using.
By providing a choice to keep a subscription after deleting an app, Apple will allow users to continue subscribing to services available outside of the app alone. For instance, a user may want to remove the Netflix app from their phone to save data space while maintaining their Netflix account for use on their computer and TV. In such a case, they can easily select to keep their subscription while deleting the app.
Impact on Developers and ASO
This update can be a double-edged sword for developers, but the positive impact can have benefits beyond one-time profits.
At first glance, developers may think that this could cost them money. If a user forgets to unsubscribe, the developers will still get paid whether or not the app is in use. This means the app can still earn money from former users until they realize they’re getting charged and manage their subscriptions, often a month or two after deleting it.
However, this could have long-term consequences that outweigh the small profits. When users get charged for an app they’re not using, it could upset them and result in negative reviews. Whether or not they forgot to unsubscribe themselves, they can still leave poor reviews accusing the app of stealing from them or taking money without authorization.
Negative reviews can have a major impact on App Store Optimization. When an app’s overall rating falls, it can impact its position in searches (where the majority of app discovery occurs) and its success in bidding for Search Ads. Too many poor reviews can also turn away potential users – 59% of users check an app’s reviews before installing, and if they see users complaining about being charged extra, they’ll be less likely to convert.
In other words, providing users with prompts to unsubscribe before deleting an app may cost short-term profits, but it has long term benefits in the form of maintaining a better reputation and higher overall reviews.
While this change is currently being beta tested for iOS 13, it is an important one to keep an eye on. Subscription app developers should be aware of the upcoming change and what it means for their apps.
Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.