Why it matters: Apple is introducing Billing Grace Period which should help developers recover lost revenue due to users accidently lapsing on subscription payments. It also allows users to continue enjoying paid content while billing snafus are cleared up.
It happens to most of us occasionally. Perhaps you switch banks and forget to update your billing information or maybe your credit card expires. Either way, it means an unintentional lapse in any app subscription services you have and lost revenue for the app developer. Apple wants to provide a bit of leniency to the situation by implementing a new Billing Grace Period. This allows subscribers to temporarily keep their subscription while Apple attempts to collect payment.
While the grace period should help developers collect lost revenue, the grace period itself varies depending on the length of the subscription. For example, weekly subscriptions will get a six day grace period while longer subscriptions get a 16 day grace period
Developers can enable Grace Period using App Store Connect. From there, the developer can navigate to My Apps -> Features -> In-App Purchases and turn on Billing Grace Period. Apple's documentation says that developers will still need to use receipt validation and server notifications to ensure they're providing service within the grace period.
The other obvious benefit, besides preserving developer revenue, is that customers can still enjoy their paid subscriptions for an extended period of time. I subscribe to the OurPact parental control app and ran into an issue where I forgot to update my billing information. I didn't actually realize I lost access to paid features until I tried to turn off a specific app (one of the paid features).
Jacob Eiting, CEO of in-app subscription startup RevenueCat, told TechCrunch that the opt-in nature of the feature means that developers have to do more work because it involves a few server-side changes as well. That means there may not be many apps that actually support it. In contrast, Google has had grace periods for the Google Play Store since 2018 and involves much less developer work.
Still, the new grace period is a welcome move from Apple and should keep both customers and developers happy.