Apple to update App Store with universal purchase option

Developers will soon be able to sell cross-platform apps as a single purchase option on iPhones, iPads and Macs after Apple revealed plans to update the App Store with new functionality on Wednesday.

Support for universal purchases, which will begin next month, will allow customers to buy an app once and then use it across all compatible devices.

The change means that consumers will benefit from a streamlined checkout and install process, while developers will be able to sync any in-app purchases and subscriptions across a range of devices.

In a statement, Apple said: “Starting in March 2020, you’ll be able to distribute iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of your app as a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in-app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once.”

Developers will have the option of creating a new app specifically for these platforms via App Store Connect or by adding platforms to an existing app record.

While the rollout will start in March, developers can start building and testing the new single purchase option with the Xcode 11.4 beta.

Apple is also preparing for the change by unifying the categories in the App Store on mobile iOS and desktop and laptop macOS to make it easier for users to discover the apps they need.

In other news, Apple is estimated to have shipped more than 30m Apple Watch units in 2019, according to new data released by research enterprise Strategy Analytics.

The figure dwarfs the 21.1m sales for all Swiss analogue watch brands during the same period and suggests that computerised wristwear is gaining significant traction with consumers both young and old.

Apple launched its first smartwatch six years ago, and its wearables division, which also includes the popular AirPods, delivered $10bn in sales in Q4 2019.

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