Before now, you could gift a paid iOS app, but not paid in-app purchases. An update to the review guidelines changes this, most likely as a reaction to more paid content only being available through in-app purchases.
Apple is adding a new gifting option for iOS apps that embraces in-app purchases as content you’d want to gift to someone else. Right now, you can gift a paid app to a friend, but you can’t gift any paid content within that app to others. That’s changing.
As MacRumors reports, an update to the App Store Review Guidelines changes the gifting rules. The old guidelines stated “Apps should not directly or indirectly enable gifting of in-app purchase content, features, or consumable items to others.” However, the new version now reads, “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.”
Why make this change? The most likely reason is the way in which purchasing content is changing on the App Store. A growing number of apps are offered for free with content purchased after you’ve started using the app, the so-called free-to-try model. Then there’s subscriptions, which charge the user regularly, but also offer additional content through in-app purchases.
While the rules have changed, we will need to wait and see in-app content gifting in action. Apple first needs to decide how to tackle it from within each app before developers embrace it. It seems likely to be popular with developers as it adds to the ways their apps can generate more revenue, but will users be enthusiastic about gifting content from within apps?