What is In-App Purchase for iOS and Android

Just because an application can be downloaded for free, it doesn’t mean that using it won’t cost you any money. Regardless of the platform, be it iOS or Android, in-app purchases are one of the prevalent ways of monetisation. The users purchase subscriptions, added functionality, or a premium account, etc. In mobile marketing, apps with in-app purchases have a significant meaning and set the most trends. The revenue of such apps is the biggest source of mobile app revenue in recent years.

The Definition of In-App Purchase

First of all, let’s clarify what an in-app purchase means. In a nutshell, it is any fee except for the cost of downloading an app that may be required from its users. Many purchases are not necessary and simply provide access to the extra features. The other type is subscriptions that require creating a profile and making a payment to utilise an application. Very frequently, mobile apps offer a free trial to test their functionality.

How do extra purchases work

Such applications work according to different models depending on their aims and strategies to attract users. If an application offers in-app purchases, the user needs to enter card info or make a payment via special services like PayPal. The answer to the question: “Are in-app purchases free?” is negative. Applications may suggest discounted prices, but they can’t be free at all. Some huge retail platforms and websites such as Amazon enable money deposits within the platform you can spend on in-app purchases later.

Who Regulates In-App Purchases?

This is a wacky question. Different platforms developed special policies and practices concerning the available purchases models in the app store. Sometimes, when things get out of control, the legislative organisations have to control the purchases within a certain country. One of the most famous cases is when governmental agencies stepped in to regulate the situation when children made in-app purchase iPhone games via the devices of their parents.

For some aspects of additional application purchases, there are even laws regulating them. For instance, the users must allow permission on a mobile device before they enter personal information to be stored on a mobile device and in the application database.

Who Takes Advantage from In-App Purchases?

All the parties take advantage of additional purchases. For developers, it is a way to earn more money and advertise their products. The marketplaces also benefit because they have a certain fee for placing such apps and their downloads. And the users take the biggest advantage because they access the extended app functionality they need. In most cases, the extra purchases are optional, and often there are applications and games with no in-app purchase. However, users can subsidise them by donating money.

Different Kinds of Additional Purchases

The types may vary depending on the app’s aims, industry, target users, etc. There are different types, involving:

  • Unblocking content. This is a permanent app feature. The user makes a one-time purchase to get access to the entire functionality set of an application.
  • Expendables. This type applies to the so-called free app purchases. When you install an application, you can use it for free, but often the functionality is quite limited, and the most desired and promoted features are paid. This type is also popular for games. Very often, there is a certain game currency the user exchanges while playing a game. As a rule, users can buy a certain amount of this currency for money. It can also be available for some achievements in a game. But the progress is very slow, and users prefer buying it so that they don’t need to wait.
  • Subscription is another popular way to offer advanced functions for money. The frequent and the best in-app purchases are made according to the subscription type. There may even be a few levels of subscriptions, each of them offering a certain feature set.

These types may be separate or combined depending on the application and the companies’ approaches.

Where to Look for In-App Purchases

The app usually manages the in-app purchases, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to how to get in-app purchases. The notifications may pop up when you try to access the advanced feature. Some applications even have a special built-in store that includes all the pricing options available.

When the application offers purchases, the billing is controlled by the app store. There are temporary options like subscriptions or permanent ones like unblockers. If you change the mobile device or reinstall an application, all the features remain; just make sure you logged in to the right account.

How to Identify Applications With Additional Purchases on the Apple Devices

App Store notifies users with a disclaimer near the install button. If the application is paid for downloading, the users see the Get button. This is the very first thing to check to ensure that the app offers all features for free.

If you want to know the specifications, you can see them in the Information part. For instance, if you need to prevent your kids from making in-app purchases, look for the corresponding options in the settings section.

How to Identify Applications With Additional Purchases in the Google Play Store

The Android applications are also identified with a special label next to the install button. However, this platform doesn’t offer detailed information. The users can simply check out the prices. Google Play provides a Parent guide that stops kids from buying subscriptions.

Advantages and Disadvantages

If there are so many advantages, have you ever thought about how much in-app purchases are influencing our experience? It especially pertains to parents who let the children use their mobile devices to play games, entertain, etc. With the benefits discussed above, let’s look closer at the problems.

  • They may affect your information safety and confidentiality. Most applications require online banking info to make a transaction. This data will be stored both in an app and on a device. Ensure the app pays careful attention to your information security.
  • A problem for parents. The process of purchasing within an application is a piece of cake. Even children can cope with it, which they actually do, spending their parents’ money. This has become a big problem for parents, and the most advanced apps have already offered functionality to childproof the devices.
  • Unfair gaming. In some cases, the desire to earn more money can ruin the sense of the game. Why play it when you can simply buy your progress. This refers to advanced weapons, tools, etc. Some players take advantage of their enhanced abilities and ruin the experience of other gamers.

In-app purchases make the program more convenient and usually unlock many useful features. However, sometimes there are programs with the same features for free at the same quality. So you have to check the market before making a certain feature paid.

Final Thoughts on In-App Purchases

This is an advanced way to promote an application and make money from it. However, the developers need to ensure that the content and the features they offer to users are valuable and desired. The big plus is that they are controlled by the app markets. Extra purchases are a great way to enhance the user experience, and when used wisely, they can lead to huge success and increased profit.

Published by Dana Adams
Content Marketing Manager