If you head into the App Store for either iOS or OS X (Mac App Store, obviously), you might notice a slight change. If you go to download an app, there is no longer a “Free” option. Now, you’ll either be presented with a price, or “Get”. The change is causing a bit of confusion with some, but it shouldn’t. Apps are still free, unless they cost something. Or will cost something later. Or might cost something at some point. You know what, we’re complicating this. Let’s talk it out.
The “Get” option replaces “Free”. Apps are still free to download if they say “Get”. Apps that you get for free might be free for a limited time, or require in-app purchases later. “Get” really only refers to the up-front action of downloading the app. For free.
The reason for the change is technically unknown, but it’s not hard to figure out.
Recently, Apple and others were forced to pay up in a class-action lawsuit regarding in-app purchases. Though an app may have been free to download, some kids were going bonkers with in-app purchases. Parents sued, and Apple ended up forking over about $30 million.
To that end, with in-app purchases and such, “Free” isn’t really free. Though Apple (and others) made it pretty clear that in-app purchases may apply, Apple is probably (wisely) just covering their backside a bit by changing the language when downloading an app.
Using language like “Get” may also create a sense of urgency, which could entice more downloads. It’s also just plain easy to understand.
Free apps? Still free; you just have to “Get” them. In-app purchases? Still not free, so tread lightly.