Apple has announced an update to its subscription policy that's supposed to make auto-renews seamless but could also lead to surprise charges. Under the old policy, the tech giant will ask users to opt in before they're charged for a subscription that has recently raised its price. Going forward, however, it will allow developers to automatically charge higher prices, so long as they meet a set of conditions. Apple will notify users of the price increase in advance via email and push notification, but it's up to them to unsubscribe before they're charged.
In its announcement, the company said that developers can use the feature if they don't increase their price more than once a year. Further, the increase must not exceed $5 and 50 percent of the current subscription pricing, or $50 and 50 percent of the current annual subscription price. Presumably, that means users will automatically get charged $15 for a subscription that was formerly $10. However, they'll have to opt in for a $30 sub that used to cost just $20, because while that's 50 percent higher than the old price, the increase is also way higher than $5.
Apple says users tend to miss prompts asking them to opt in for higher subscription prices, which interrupts their service. If so, they're also likely to miss notifications about price increases. Since developers can only use the feature if they don't change prices once a year, unscrupulous players at least can't take advantage of the system by frequently raising their prices by a couple of bucks or so. Still, people with tight budgets may want to check their emails every now and then to ensure they're not being charged higher prices than what hey can pay all of a sudden.