Apple adds 'Confirm Subscription' step to iOS app subscription purchases

Posted:
in iOS edited April 11
In what appears to be a bid to thwart "scammy" apps, Apple recently activated an extra confirmation step in iOS that requires users to physically interact with a pop-up notification before committing to the purchase of recurring app subscription.

Confirm Subscription


Spotted by developer David Barnard, who shared the discovery in a tweet on Thursday, Apple's new policy forces users to jump through an extra hoop when downloading a subscription-based app or opting to purchase a subscription in a free-to-use app.

The system inserts a new "Confirm Subscription" pop-up notification after the usual App Store purchase page.

Previously, users were able to -- perhaps too quickly -- commit to an in-app subscription by tapping on a button and confirming the purchase with Face ID, Touch ID or passcode. Now, tapping the same button brings up the usual App Store purchase prompt, but further requires users to interact with a follow-up confirmation window before the subscription is processed.

"This subscription will continue unless canceled in Settings at least one day before the subscription period ends," the message reads. Users must tap "OK" to proceed with the transaction, offering one final chance to cancel if the subscription was made in error.

This extra step is thought to be an effort to stymie apps designed to take advantage of Apple's subscription purchase mechanism. Last October, a report highlighted a growing problem that saw "scammers" craft apps with the intent to dupe customers into signing up for recurring subscriptions.

Unscrupulous app makers were found to use intentionally deceptive user interface elements, "dark pattens" and other strategies to confuse or trick customers into starting convertible trials. For example, one app pushed users to upgrade to a "Pro Version" by tapping a large "start" button that disguised monthly pricing information in small font. Once activated, users were committed to a three-day free trial that auto-converted to a $3.99 per month subscription.

At the time, Apple addressed the issue by removing offending apps from the App Store, but in retrospect the policy appears to have been a stopgap solution. The new confirmation alert, while not elegant, at least provides iOS users an extra layer of security against would-be scammers.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    arlorarlor Posts: 509member
    This seems like a good change, though it could be improved by including the billing amount and frequency (eg. $3.99 billed every 30 days), just to make it totally clear what you're saying OK to, without having to cancel back to read the fine print. 
    PetrolDavestompyminicoffee
  • Reply 2 of 6
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,152member
    This is good.  Very good.   Especially for Family Sharing.   My grandson repeatidly and unknowlingly opened "free trial" subscriptions that would, if not cancelled, convert into a $100 a year subscriptions.   And, not one of them would open as a cheap monthly subscription and everyone of them was a high priced annual subscription.

    This will give him a notification that he is doing something he may not realize.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    This is good.  Very good.   Especially for Family Sharing.   My grandson repeatidly and unknowlingly opened "free trial" subscriptions that would, if not cancelled, convert into a $100 a year subscriptions.   And, not one of them would open as a cheap monthly subscription and everyone of them was a high priced annual subscription.

    This will give him a notification that he is doing something he may not realize.
    Isn’t there a Parental Control you can turn on that pings a parent’s device and asks permission be granted before a child can make a purchase? Seems like that would a good way to avert your grandson’s situation.

    Edit: yup, just checked. Under Family Sharing “Ask to Buy” needs to be activated on the grandson’s account.
    edited April 12 MplsPstompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 6
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,470member
    This is great! So you get an 'inelegant' popup. No worse than all the other iOS popups. I was looking for a very basic, simple weather app for my mini 5 (WHY doesn't Apple include the same on as on the phone?!) and a review mentioned it's START button actually triggers a free trial then subscription. The text telling you this is light grey and TINY, easy to miss.

    This new 'hoop' is a welcome sack tap to sleazy developers. I like the App Store but Apple needs to work on a decent search engine that actually give the results you're looking for, and when bragging about how many apps are in store, brag how many people they  have curating the apps. It should be a number worthy of bragging rights.

    If Apple is going to tell us their Walled Garden is for our benefit, they should at least put some gunners on the ramparts. I'd settle for archers with long bows.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,674member
    Very good feature. Even better would be if you got a pop up before the first charge was made letting you know the free trial was over and giving you the chance to cancel.

    They could also require apps to have the option for a monthly subscription rather than the yearly, but then the slimy apps would simply jack up the monthly cost. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 6
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,152member
    This is good.  Very good.   Especially for Family Sharing.   My grandson repeatidly and unknowlingly opened "free trial" subscriptions that would, if not cancelled, convert into a $100 a year subscriptions.   And, not one of them would open as a cheap monthly subscription and everyone of them was a high priced annual subscription.

    This will give him a notification that he is doing something he may not realize.
    Isn’t there a Parental Control you can turn on that pings a parent’s device and asks permission be granted before a child can make a purchase? Seems like that would a good way to avert your grandson’s situation.

    Edit: yup, just checked. Under Family Sharing “Ask to Buy” needs to be activated on the grandson’s account.
    Yeh, there is.   And we tried that early on then turned it off because it didn't work well for us.   Essentially the request comes through as an Apple notification and, if you don't respond to it immediately, it just goes away.   We were running into too many problems where I missed the notification -- just to approve a $.99 charge.  So, we went with the honor system where I asked him to text me for any charges over about $5.00 and that was working well -- until these "free" subscriptions came along.    
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