In-app purchases refers to the ability of a smartphone or mobile device to facilitate the sale of products or services within a specific application or “app.” This added functionality has opened many new markets for the makers of various mobile applications. In-app purchasing functionality can take many forms in different applications, with different methodologies, functional features, and integration into an interface.
Many in-app purchases occur in games, where users are able to purchase virtual goods for the game through the app itself. It provides a new measure of profitability for apps that are often free or very inexpensive.
Some developers use special tools and resources to construct in-app purchasing functionality. Some resources are specific to a brand/model of smartphone, where third-party services facilitate in-app purchasing for app developers.
Other types of in-app purchasing accommodations involve specialized currencies. Some of these virtual currencies may be much easier to code than actual cash transactions, which may require that merchant credit card processing arrangements be built into the app itself. Alternative virtual currencies can also help create easier purchasing setups for end users. However, any of these in-app purchasing systems will require an eventual transfer of funds, and security for both the actual transactions and the in-app fiat transactions.
In-app purchases initially created some controversy due to users not always realizing they were spending actual money on apps. And as a result Apple updated its in-app purchasing as of iOS 4.3. Requiring users to first enter their password before being able to make an in-app purchase. The ability to make in-app purchases can also be disabled in most cases, which is particularly recommended when the smartphone is shared with another person or frequently accessed by a child or teenager.
In-app purchases first became available in Apple’s App Store with the release of iOS 3.0 in October 2009. The BlackBerry App World added support for in-app purchases in September 2010. And in March 2011 Google added its version of in-app purchases called in-app billing for Android users.
Apple currently offers four different types of in-app purchases: non-replenishable, replenishable, subscription-based and auto-renewing subscriptions. In-app purchases apply to premium apps as well as free apps, known as freemium apps.
New Guideline allows gifting of in-app purchases
Previously, you could gift paid apps to other people, but not paid in-app content. New guideline states: “Apps may enable gifting of items that are eligible for in-app purchase to others. Such gifts may only be refunded to the original purchaser and may not be exchanged.”
Currently, if you wish to give a nonfree app to someone, you tap the blue and white three-dots icon. It’s located across from the app’s price. Send the app via email to the recipient.