What the App Store’s Changes Mean for the Average User

Not many changes, but more emails

Key Takeaways

  • Apple announced major App Store changes last week as a result of a court settlement. 
  • The most notable changes the average user will see will be more emails in their inbox. 
  • Experts say going forward, users should be more aware of the apps they download and read the fine print now.
Closeup of the App Store logo on a smartphone screen.

Chesnot / Getty Images

Changes are coming to Apple’s App Store, and even though the average user might not see many differences in their experience, they should still pay attention. 

Last week, Apple announced the new changes after reaching a $100 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit from US app developers. While these changes are mostly seen on the developer side, App Store users should become more aware of their apps going forward and what they're being charged for. 

"If Apple is opening up their doors more towards developers who want to expand their price point, consumers should be wary of how much one app or another will want them to spend once they’re using it," Bill Mann, a privacy expert at Restore Privacy, wrote in an email to Lifewire. 

The App Store’s Controversial History

Apple’s App Store troubles have been around for years, with apps and companies claiming the Store’s policies are too strict and monopolizing. The tech giant has even gotten into hot water with the federal government over antitrust concerns

"Always take the time to read the reviews for any app you download. The sticker price may not give you all the features you're expecting."

To prove itself, Apple released a study (although Apple commissioned it) defending its App Store fees, saying that its 30% commission rate for paid apps and in-app purchases is the same or similar to 38 digital marketplaces.

Many frustrations finally came to a head when Apple removed Epic Games’ Fortnite app last August after Epic refused to pay Apple’s 30% fee on digital purchases. Instead, Epic bypassed what’s been called the "Apple tax" by letting players buy Fortnite’s in-game currency, V-Bucks, which Apple said violated its App Store guidelines.

The battle between Apple and Epic Games brought deeper issues about the App Store and its control over both developers and users to the forefront. 

Changes Are Coming

But that’s all about to change—sort of. Apple details that the new App Store changes mean "developers can share purchase options with users outside of their iOS app; expand the price points developers can offer for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and paid apps; and establishes a new fund to assist qualifying US developers."

For consumers, all this ultimately means more emails from the apps they have installed on their phone and more price points for subscriptions, in-app purchases, and more. 

Closeup on someone using a smartphone.

Yura Fresh / Unsplash

"The most noticeable difference in the overall App Store experience for the average user is the increased amount of marketing emails with a subscription, or in-app purchase offers—developers will share purchase options with users outside of their iOS app," Ilia Kukharev, head of app store optimization at AppFollow, wrote in an email to Lifewire. 

"New pricing tiers won't change anything for the average user, as paying $4.99 or $4.49 for the in-app purchase is not a significant change."

Be Conscious of Your Apps

Overall, these changes won’t be major on the user side of the App Store, but experts still say users should start to pay more attention to the apps they download. 

"For the average user, what this means is that app developers have more ways they can charge you money inside the app itself. While there are plenty of legitimate uses for these features in certain apps, these also represent new opportunities for fraudulent charges and basic features stuck behind paywalls," Devon Fata, the CEO of Pixoul, explained to Lifewire in an email. 

"Always take the time to read the reviews for any app you download. The sticker price may not give you all the features you're expecting."

"If Apple is opening up their doors more towards developers who want to expand their price point, consumers should be wary of how much one app or another will want them to spend..."

Mann added that consumers may not realize that when they input their financial information and make a purchase in an app, those developers now have their financial information and can try to lure the user into making purchases they aren’t aware of. 

"For technology experts like myself, I don’t like the way the App Store is changing," he said. "I prefer apps that include a single price attached to the download itself, rather than hidden content within the app."

App Store users might even have to deal with more of this type of diversification of payment, which Kukharev said is on the horizon. Still, he said it could be a while before this happens. 

"Corporations like Apple and Google will do their best to keep users locked inside their payment ecosystem, as nobody wants to lose money," he said.

Was this page helpful?