Apple put a lot of new things into the market this year--the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the iPad Air 2 and plans for an Apple Watch--but 2014 will also mark the moment it took out something important: the word "free" from its App Store.
Regulators and industry watchers have expressed concern for months that apps and mobile games labeled "free" are deceiving consumers when they require in-app purchases to get a full experience. With little fanfare, Apple switched that word on its buttons in the App Store, replacing it with the word "Get" instead.
Developers didn't seem troubled by the move, with most quick to joke about it on social media like Twitter.
Get this… Free apps aren't "free" in Apple's App Store any more. http://t.co/m4eWVvbfkV— Shackleton (@itstagger) November 19, 2014
Although many interpreted Apple's decision as a concession to government agencies, some thought criticism over so-called "free apps" in popular culture might have played a role.
Free game apps aren't labeled "free" in Apple's App Store any more. http://t.co/48xA6d5uL5 <- Wonder how much of this was Southpark Episode— Bradlyn Doma (@BDoma) November 19, 2014
Free? No more. At least that won't be the button. http://t.co/11Wqy86Fpb— Wesley de Souza (@WesleydeSouza) November 19, 2014
For the most part, developer reaction suggested that Apple is catching up to a reality for many mobile app users.
Europeans. Go figure... http://t.co/Hm49ZIeWLP— Effie Arditi (@fe_rdt) November 20, 2014
Some actually suggested Apple hasn't yet gone far enough, and that while the "Get" button may make sense, there could be more rethinking of how it treats apps in the App Store in the long term.
Apple changes App Store policy so that F2P games have "Get" not "Free" buttons. Be good to see IAP price range too. http://t.co/ZUjh1XaP7M— Playniac (@playniac) November 20, 2014