In-App Purchase Tutorial: Auto-Renewable Subscriptions

Auto-renewable subscriptions provide a way of offering your users continuous access to your app’s renewing content – providing them with a great user experience and access to content they care about, and you with an appealing business model. By Rony Rozen.

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Seeing it All Come Together

So, now that you have both subscriptions set up on both App Store Connect and the app itself, it’s time to test it. Using the same sandbox user, upgrade to the annual subscription by tapping Subscriptions and then choosing Yearly.

If you wanted to test purchasing the yearly subscription directly, you’d need to create a new sandbox user.

But before you go crazy with various testing scenarios (and I highly recommend that you do, because testing is incredibly important — especially edge-cases that may go unnoticed), there’s something you need to know about sandbox vs. production when it comes to auto-renewable subscriptions:

You don’t really want to test your auto-renewable over a period of days, months or years. So as long as you’re in the testing environment, renewals happen at an accelerated rate:

Tap Purchase for Introductory Pricing iOS

Also know that renewals are limited to six times per day. So, you may find yourself working with multiple test users if you want to test various scenarios.

Auto Renewable Subscriptions Best Practices

You now have a basic working app with multiple subscription options for your users to choose from. Now is a great time to cover a few auto-renewable subscriptions best practices:

  • You already know that you shouldn’t hard code your product IDs in the app but fetch them from your server, instead. This will allow you more flexibility in which options you offer and when.
  • You should never store other subscription data — such as prices, descriptions, etc — in your app. You should always rely on Apple for this up-to-date data. This will give you the ability to change prices and make unique promotional offerings without counting on users upgrading to a newer version.
  • You should consider offering subscription management options within your app. This will give you the opportunity to create a subscription experience that’s tailor-made for your specific app. You can offer a branded, contextual experience for upgrading, crossgrading or even downgrading, while providing a deep link into Settings in case your users decide to cancel their subscription.
  • Make sure you’re describing your subscription clearly so your users know exactly what they’re about to purchase. This will likely not only help you attract more subscribers but also help prevent frustrated users who paid for a subscription but expected to get something different.
  • In addition to attracting new subscribers, you should also put some thought into keeping existing subscribers. One thing to consider is managing prices. There may come a time when you’ll be interested in increasing the price for one of your subscription options. This is OK for new users, but what about existing ones? You can decide to keep existing users at their old subscription price and only increase the price for new users, or you can decide to increase the price for everyone and hope for the best. If you do decide to increase the price for existing users, and have multiple groups of existing users at varying prices, make sure you first increase the price for users paying closest to the current price, then the next closest, and so on. Otherwise, your users may end up being prompted multiple times by Apple to accept increasingly higher prices.
  • Most importantly, always be aware of Apple’s guidelines. This is relevant to everything you do on iOS but since this tutorial is about In-App Purchases, you should probably take a look at the relevant section in Apple’s guidelines and make sure everything makes sense to you there before starting to work on your next app.

Where to Go From Here?

You can download the final app using the Download Materials button at the top or bottom of this tutorial. Note that if you haven’t done so yet, you’ll need to go through the steps described in the Setting Up the Project section in order to get it to work.

You should now have a pretty good grasp of what you must do to set up auto-renewable subscriptions. If you’re interested in further reading, I highly recommend:

As you’re adding support for auto-renewable subscriptions to your app, always keep your users in mind. The best way to maximize your profits is to give your users something that they really need or want and to do so in a user-friendly way. That will keep them, and their money, coming back for more! :]

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please use the forum below for any questions or comments!

Rony Rozen


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