Non-subscription apps can now offer a free time-based trial period before payment is required.

Developers launching apps on Apple’s App Store obviously want to make money, but the difficult question is always how to make money. There’s so many free apps available it’s difficult to sell users premium content which demands payment upfront. There are ways around that with in-app purchases (IAP), but Apple has now introduced a much cleaner try-before-you-buy option.

As reports, subscription-based apps have been able to offer a free trial for a while now, but non-subscription apps were left out in the cold. The situation changed this week with Apple updating its Store Review Guidelines (Section 3.1) to allow free trials on non-subscription apps.

The updated guidelines state that, “Non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period before presenting a full unlock option by setting up a Non-Consumable IAP item at Price Tier 0 that follows the naming convention: “14-day Trial.” Prior to the start of the trial, your app must clearly identify its duration, the content or services that will no longer be accessible when the trial ends, and any downstream charges the user would need to pay for full functionality.”

So users will know before they start using an app that it will cost money, but only after X days of free use. The upfront transparency should prevent any user frustration, but it could also greatly improve the quality of content in apps because the developer really needs the user to reach the end of the free trial wanting to pay to continue using/playing.

If you’re sick of free-to-play advert-filled apps, or apps that hide lots of content behind IAPs, free trials will sound like a great idea. It will be interesting to see how many premium app developers embrace them.