Apple May Soon Let Apps Charge Higher Prices Without Asking First

A new report from TechCrunch details what could be a new model for subscription renewals on Apple devices. Ulysses app developer Max Seelemen first noticed that something was off on March 24, 2022, when he received a notice that the monthly subscription price for Disney+ was going to increase — and the wording was a bit different this time around.

Up until now, any time a service is up for renewal through Apple — such as with an iOS app — users have been presented with the option to either manually accept the new subscription fees or let the subscription lapse and be canceled automatically. This way if someone didn't want to renew their subscription at the increased price, all they had to do was ignore the notification and it would take care of itself.

What Seelemen noticed with the Disney+ app, however, was that it seemed to consider inaction as acceptance of the new prices. In other words, ignoring the notification would result in an automatic renewal at the increased price point.

The change is a bit worrisome

The inclination might be to believe it's just hand-wringing over poor word choice, but that may not actually be the case here. TechCrunch says it reached out to Apple on the matter of Disney+ seemingly being held to a different standard than other iOS apps that still default to unsubscribing if users don't accept new pricing terms. Apple's response doesn't exactly alleviate those concerns.

According to the response given to TechCrunch, the ability for apps to sign users up for increased subscription rates without their consent (or possibly even their knowledge) is an intended feature that's currently being tested via a pilot program. The spokesperson didn't specify who was part of this program, or what it entailed (other than a different approach to subscription price increases), but did say to expect to see more details "in the coming weeks."

Until Apple or a company that's taking part in the pilot program comes forward with more information, we can't do much other than wait, hope this auto-agreement approach doesn't cause problems for users, and see what happens.