Apple testing App Store feature that automatically opts users in to price hikes

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Apple is quietly testing a new App Store feature that allows developers to automatically raise prices on app subscriptions without a user’s explicit opt-in.

The new feature was first discovered by App Store users who noticed that Disney+ was simply informing them of a recent price hike, instead of asking for them to agree to it. Developer Max Seelemann first noticed the change in App Store policy.

The new price hike alert is positioned as a notification, with a prominent “OK” button to dismiss it. If users want to change their subscription, they would need to tap the smaller “review your subscription” button above it.

It isn’t clear if users need to actually press the “OK” button for the new pricing to take effect. Seelemann said he also received an email from Disney+ that essentially told him the price was raising and he was automatically being opted in at the higher rate.

In other words, the new system seems to automatically opt in users to a higher price unless they explicitly opt out.

That’s different from how Apple’s official development guidelines describe how subscriptions are supposed to work. Under current policy, a notification alerting users to a price hike are supposed to have a prominent “Agree to New Price” button.

Seelemann isn’t the only one to notice the updated notifications. Other users also chimed in to say that they’ve seen similar behavior from other streaming apps.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple did not dispute the news. Instead, Apple said that it is currently pilot testing a “new commerce feature we plan to launch very soon.”

“The pilot includes developers across various app categories, organization sizes and regions to help test an upcoming enhancement that we believe will be great for both developers and users, and we’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks,” an Apple spokesperson said.

The pilot test appears to be limited to a select handful of companies like Disney+. According to the report, other developers weren’t able to enable the automatic price hikes on their own apps.

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