Apple now allows In App Purchase in free iPhone applications

Apple's In App Purchase feature for iPhone applications, introduced in iPhone OS 3.0, has been great for developers; it allows them to sell content within their applications, instead of creating entirely new ones. Now, Apple is allowing this feature in free apps; previously, it was restricted to paid.

As announced at the iPhone OS 3.0 event, Apple claimed that "free remains free", referring to the fact that they would not allow In App Purchases in unpaid apps; it is unclear what caused this policy change. The news was announced in an email that went out to developers just earlier, stating, "In App Purchase is being rapidly adopted by developers in their paid apps. Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions, and digital services. You can also simplify your development by creating a single version of your app that uses In App Purchase to unlock additional functionality, eliminating the need to create Lite versions of your app. Using In App Purchase in your app can also help combat some of the problems of software piracy by allowing you to verify In App Purchases."

Apple's announcement provides insight into why they're now allowing this, and it's certainly a good step for the App Store; as Wired reported, some developers have had issues with the only-paid model previously supported. Scarab, a company the sells digital magazines, wanted to offer a free application and then have In App Purchase for their issues. Unfortunately, they had to charge for the initial application download, potentially limiting those who would download their software to check it out for free. It's good that this problem has been solved, and it seems that developers agree.

Perhaps we'll start seeing a greater use of In App Purchase now, but, as always, only time will tell.

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