App Store now allowing in-app purchases for free iPhone software

Apple have tweaked their App Store policies to allow for in-app purchases in free applications [iPhone developer link].  Contrary to initial rules that only paid applications could offer users paid content, subscriptions and digital services within the software, the change now means that developers can release, say, a free "Lite" version with an option to upgrade, within the app, to the full title.

"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."

It also makes certain app model types more straightforward: for instance, you could download a free travel guide viewer and then pick from a catalog of different locations within the app, rather than having to download several individual guides and pay for each.  Apple have likely made the change – in part – to tidy up the App Store, which was becoming increasingly cluttered with twin "Lite" and "Full" versions of software.

Of course, it also means that some developers could fill their software with micro-transactions unlocking various levels of functionality, but Apple are presumably relying on the review process to warn would-be downloaders of any such tricksy behavior.  The new policy is effective now.

[via Daring Fireball]