App Store refunds trials

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Some time ago, I was reminded of an idea I had almost three years ago, which was in essence, a refund system for IOS apps: you buy an app, use it, and if you delete it from your iPhone within a predefined time, say, 48 hours, you get credited for that purchase. It’s still a strong idea, but this one is better:

App Store trials

Amy Worrall writes:

Developers can choose whether to allow a trial of 1, 7 or 30 days, or to disallow trials all together, on a per-app basis. For those apps that allow trials, the App Store would show a “Try for 7 days” button alongside “Buy app”.

The rest of Amy’s short post (2 minutes reading time) goes on to describe how you interact with a trial app, and how it behaves and changes on your device between trial app and paid app. It’s rather good. Actually, it’s pretty great — especially the stuff about the homescreen icons.

The trail system removes the complication of making a payment, then refunding it again. A free trial is better than a paid one, and would no doubt allow more people to try more apps, and therefore not only lead to more app purchases, but more confident and trusted app purchases. This is good for the customer, the developer, and Apple.


=== UPDATE ===

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if this part of Amy’s proposal is the best solution:

When you run the [trial] app, it permanently runs with a double height status bar, which shows the amount of time left. Tapping this status bar opens the app store page allowing you to purchase the app.

Running something at double height won’t give you a true representation of using the app. It’ll give you an almost true representation, but the double height status bar might get in the way by reducing the total pixels allowed for in the design of the app. (I do like the ‘tap to purchase the app’ part and a special trial colour though…)

I wonder if a better solution would be a splash screen1 which launches before the app opens — limited to once per day — which shows you the number of days of the trial left, and an option to buy or continue to use the trial. The upside: run the app as if you already owned it and see every pixel, getting a 100% accurate representation of the app. The downside: a splash screen (ugh), and potentially not the best time to offer to purchase the app. When you launch an app, you want to use it. In all probability, you’re not ready at that time to make a purchase.

Hmmm, maybe my solution isn’t the best either. More thought needed.

=== UPDATE 2 ===

Marco has some interesting thoughts (as usual) from the developer and wider community perspective.

  1. I know, I know, a splash screen is not the prettiest solution but…