A Complete Guide to In-App Purchases for iOS Development

Hello folks! In a time where the App Store is full of apps, users have more than plenty of options to choose from. There is a lot of competition on all kind of apps, and users want to try them before they decide whether they like them or not. On the other hand, developers target on making some profit out of their published apps, but first they need to build an audience for that. Releasing an app as a paid one is not something that guarantees a financial success; unless the app is doing something extraordinary, chances that users will pay for it are low. Thankfully, there is a solution which is satisfying for both sides so users can try apps and developers see some profit; it’s called In-App Purchases.

By offering in-app purchases to an app, we, as developers, can keep content or features locked, hidden or unavailable from users unless they pay for it. Users on their side are happy because they can have a taste of the app using its free parts, and they’ll be willing to buy the premium content if they’re satisfied by it.

Any purchasable digital item through in-app purchases is called a product. App Store offers four different kind of products:

  1. Consumable: These are products which can be bought again and again after users have consumed them.
  2. Non-consumable: These are products bought just once. In subsequent app installations users do not pay again to acquire them; instead these products are restored from the App Store.
  3. Auto-renewable subscriptions: Users can buy content or features for a certain period of time. Upon expiration, subscription is renewed automatically. Users have always the option to cancel.
  4. Non-renewing subscriptions: Similar as above, but the subscription does not renew automatically. The content of the in-app purchase also differs.

In this tutorial we won’t discuss at all about subscriptions; We’ll focus on consumable and non-consumable products only because it would be impossible to cover everything in just one tutorial.

When using IAPs, it’s possible to have additional downloadable content that users get only after paying for it. This content can be stored either on your server or in Apple’s servers. That’s also a case which we won’t cover, but I invite you to extend what we’ll do in this tutorial when finishing it and add any missing features if you want so.

Integrating and providing in-app purchases to an app is not a difficult task; it just includes several steps in the way. If you haven’t done that before then you might find it complicated, but trust me that it’s not. Keep reading to learn about the demo application we’ll be using today, and get prepared to implement your first in-app purchases!

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