What is In-app Subscription and How to Implement It?

A comprehensive guide on in-app subscriptions: definition, advantages, step-by-step implementation guide, applicable app categories.

What is an In-App Subscription?

An in-App subscription is an increasingly popular way to monetize a mobile App. Technically, it is the process of collecting payments periodically in exchange for premium content and extended services. In-App subscription has gained huge popularity due to their immense customer retention potential whilst improving the overall user experience simultaneously.

Advantages of In-App Subscription (IAS)

The subscription model has a lot of advantages. The subscription model has proven to be more efficient than the ad model. The ad model sacrifices user experience in order to make them interact with ads whereas, in the Subscription model, the users already pay for the content, hence no such compromises need to be made. 

The in-App subscription also fosters App companies to develop great applications. Constant updates, regular content, feature updates and other values are constantly added to the app in order for this subscription model to be a success. In other words, the in-app subscription model benefits the healthy development of the whole APP Economy.

What Apps Succeed with In-App Subscriptions?

An in-App subscription seems to be the best model for generating stable revenue, but this revenue model is a good fit for only certain kinds of apps. The apps which have a theme of constantly updating their content are a perfect fit.

  • Content apps like youtube, Instagram, Spotify, etc are amazing examples of content apps that have performed amazingly well using this model. Online news portals also fall under this category.

  • Service sector apps such as diet planners, calorie trackers, and fitness apps would also be a good fit. The above-mentioned apps have content that is curated for a particular need that seems valuable enough to pay for periodically.

  • Gaming apps tend to be a bad fit for this model as they do not provide constant updates (updates being related more to gameplay and not monetary), which thrives under the single-time purchase option where players tend to purchase skins and battle passes. Apps which do not have the scope to have regular updates and enhanced content also will not be successful when this model is employed.

In-App Subscription vs In-App Purchase?

In-App purchase is a type of additional paid service provided by the application. This type of purchase does not require periodic payments and can even be purchased from a free account. This is an add-on type of purchase. An in-App subscription on the other hand requires periodic payment for continued service. It is not a one-time purchase and it works on a subscription basis, failing which they revert back to being a free user.

In-App Purchase comes in many forms, namely
  • Consumable: It is a type of one-time purchase which gets used up or depleted. It is generally popular among gaming apps in the form of in-game currency.

  • Non-Consumable: it is a type of one-time purchase that lasts forever and doesn’t expire at all. This could be a one-time payment to stop ads or get a premium item.( a selfie filter, extra editing kit, etc)

  • Auto-Renewable Subscription: It is a type of purchase that is recurring in nature. Once the user subscribes to this, the user gets charged periodically until they cancel the subscription. (mostly used in music and streaming apps)

  • Non-Renewing: It is a subscription-type purchase that provides premium access for a limited time. The offer itself would have changed after some time, hence it doesn’t automatically re-subscribe. The user must subscribe after the initial offer expires (battle passes in games, and seasonal special services come under this).

How to Implement In-App Subscription in Apple Store Connect?

The steps to implement the above are as follows:

  1. To implement the in-App subscription on iOS devices open the Apple Store Connect, select the MyApps and then select the app we need the subscription feature for.
  2. In the menu features go to subscriptions and select the “+” symbol.
  3. Under the subscription group, select the create button, when the pop-up appears, enter the name of the group and create it.
  4. Subscription levels are the ranking order inside the app itself. This gives users information about the upgrade, new upgrade options, downgrade etc.
  5. Subscription duration talks to the time after which the auto-recurring payment is processed for the service opted for by the user.
  6. To the popup opened: the reference name of the product will be used on App Store Connect and Trends reports. The name can’t be longer than 64 characters.
  7. A product ID after being allocated and used for one product, cannot be reused even if the product ceases to exist. Subscription duration and price needs to be added based on country or region.
  8. Save this entire subscription by using the save button.
  9. To set up a trial period go to the subscription prices section, go to the subscription prices and view all subscription prices. Go and select the introductory offer and the country involved and mention the start and mention No End Date. Select free and then mention the duration of the free trial.
  10. Go to IOS App and prepare for submission, Finally go to in-app purchases and in the pop up click on all in-app purchases and click finish.

How to Implement In-App Subscription in Android?

The steps to implement the above are as follows:

  1. To implement the in-App subscription on Android devices, we need to use Google Play Billing. For that, we must access the app’s Google Play Console. Set up your payments profile in the Google Play Developer Console. Open the selected app via the google console( under the store presence), The steps are as follows:
  2. Open the google play console and view the subscriptions page. This can be accessed via Monetize->Products->Subscriptions.
  3. Create a new subscription and fill up the subsequent subscription details asked by the Play Console. Product ID and Name of the subscription are required.
  4. Being a developer, one must be transparent and truthful about the services provided and the name of the subscription must refer to the offer provided by the subscription.
  5. We need to provide the benefits and for that next to the benefits option click on “add benefits'' and type the description of the subscription offer. 4 such benefits can be added. Benefits should focus on the services provided rather than the free trial or the pricing of the service provided.
  6. An optional description next to the description option can be used to provide a description that is only visible to the developer and is mainly for internal usage.
  7. Proper information about the service must be provided if we are distributing for consumer law or tax. The “Tax and Compliance” option needs to be selected to learn more about the same.
  8. To make sure the subscription option is available for users, we should ensure to have at least one base plan.


The potential possessed by applications’ monetization is being explored more and more in recent times. This saw the rise of classic models like the ad model and the in-app purchase model. But the modern subscription model concept is seen as the clear winner. 

From the above article, we can understand how the In-App subscription model outclasses its classic counterparts revenue-wise as well as possessing other otherworldly advantages with respect to LTV and Customer retention.

Proper management of In-App Subscription is required to further improve upon the positives, hence a subscription management platform like Appflow.ai, is helpful to manage your subscription products, as well as aggregating subscription analytics, intuitive charts, revenue growth suggestion, running experiments fast & easily in one place.

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What is In-app Subscription and How to Implement It?

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