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Glossary

iOS In-App Purchases

iOS In-App Purchases

Sergey Zubkov

Updated: July 27, 2023

5 min read

Content

iOS in-app purchases 

In iOS, developers can enable users to purchase additional features or content within an app using in-app purchases, providing a way to monetize their apps beyond the initial purchase price or to offer a “freemium” model. Apple manages the payment process and deducts a commission, known as the “Apple tax”, from the sales amount. The commission rate is typically 30% of the app’s price, but it may vary for subscriptions and in-app purchases. To address concerns from developers, Apple reduced its commission to 15% for small businesses with annual sales below $1 million in 2020, both for new and existing developers.

Using Apple’s in-app purchase system, app creators can monetize their digital goods or services in 175 storefronts without the need to create their own payment infrastructure. StoreKit 2 is a framework for Apple in-app purchases, enabling developers to add IAPs to their iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS apps.

Types of iOS in-app purchases

In-app purchases allow users to buy digital items within an app, which are called products. The App Store provides four types of products:

  • Consumable: These products can be purchased repeatedly after being consumed by the user.
  • Non-consumable: These products are purchased only once. When the user reinstalls the app, they do not have to pay again as these products are restored from the App Store.
  • Auto-renewable subscriptions: Users can purchase access to content or features for a specific duration, and the subscription renews automatically upon expiration. Users can cancel the subscription anytime.
  • Non-renewing subscriptions: This type of subscription is similar to auto-renewable subscriptions, but it does not renew automatically, and the content of the in-app purchase also varies.

Difference between iOS and Android in-app purchases

In-app purchases are one of the most common monetization models for both iOS and Android app creators. According to Business of Apps, Users are spending $380 billion worldwide on in-app purchases. This generates 48.2% of mobile app earnings as compared to 14% from ads-based revenue and 37.8% from paid app downloads.

As for the app categories, game apps tend to use in-app purchases more massively (around 79% of games available in app stores) compared to 50% of non-gaming apps using this monetization tool.  Platform-wise, iOS is way ahead of Google Play with almost doubled the consumer spend of Google Play. 

iOS and Android in-app purchases share some similarities, but there are also some differences between the two platforms.

  • Payment systems. Apple uses its own payment system for in-app purchasing in iOS, while Google allows developers to use Google Play Billing or a third-party payment system. This means that Apple takes a commission on every Apple in-app purchase made through the App Store, while Google only takes a commission if the developer uses Google Play Billing.
  • In-app purchase process: On iOS, the purchase process is handled by Apple’s StoreKit framework, while on Android it is handled by Google Play Billing. The user interface and user experience may also differ slightly between the two platforms.
  • Refunds. Apple allows users to request refunds within a certain timeframe and may grant refunds in certain circumstances, while Google’s policy is more flexible, allowing users to request refunds within 48 hours of purchase or in certain other circumstances.
  • Subscription management. On iOS, users can manage their subscriptions through the App Store, while on Android they can manage them through the Google Play Store or directly through the app.
  • Store approval process. Apple and Google have different app store approval processes, which can affect how in-app purchases are reviewed and approved. Apple is known for having stricter guidelines and a more rigorous review process, while Google’s process is generally more flexible.

How to connect iOS in-app purchases with Adapty

To ensure the secure and efficient management of in-app purchases for your app, Adapty requires users to provide their In-App Purchase API information. This information is used to obtain authorization from the App Store Server API for each request made to the API.

Uploading an In-App Purchase API key is necessary to enable secure authentication and validation of in-app purchase transaction history requests for your app’s customers with Apple through Adapty. If you want to enable customer lookup through Order ID for iOS apps, you must also provide an Issuer ID.

To help you through this process, Adapty provides a step-by-step guide, which you can follow after you add in-app purchases in iOS to ensure that your app’s in-app purchase process is secure and efficient.

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