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iOS 15 builds in better customer support for in-app purchases

Refunds and subscription management

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

As part of this week’s launch of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8, Apple also introduced StoreKit 2, a set of APIs for in-app purchases and subscriptions. The new Swift-based tools could help developers better track and support the purchases their users make instead of relying on third-party solutions like RevenueCat.

The kit introduces new APIs to “determine product entitlements and eligibility for offers, quickly get a user’s history of in-app purchases, find out the latest status of a subscription with one simple check,” and most importantly, offer a way for users to manage subscriptions and request refunds in-app. Apple is also updating the App Store server API and App Store server notifications so developers can know when a user’s subscription expires in real time and possibly offer a free extension.

As RevenueCat notes in a blog post breaking down Apple’s changes, StoreKit 2’s features only work when on devices running newer software like iOS 15. Apps that still support older versions of Apple’s OS — and most of them will for quite a while — are encouraged to use the original StoreKit. This divide could grow over time: Apple is allowing users to stay on iOS 14 and just receive security updates, and given how long the company’s products last, there’s likely a lot of old iPads and iPhones kicking around. Luckily, StoreKit 2 and StoreKit are interoperable, “purchases made with the original StoreKit API will still be accessible through the new StoreKit 2 transaction and renewal info APIs,” Apple writes.

These changes could make it a lot easier to offer traditional customer support for the purchases made inside apps. For Apple, they’re another small enticement for developers to provide some kind of in-app purchase or subscription, which financially benefits the company thanks to its increasingly contentious 30 percent cut.