Many apps have a Free version and a Full version. How is it compared to, installing a single version, and use an in-app purchase of $0.99 or $1.99 to unlock to the program to make it a full version? It does have the advantage that the user doesn't have to go to the App Store and install the program one more time and thus making it easier for the users to purchase.

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    The "in-app payment" option was only recently enabled. Free-Full versions was the only option before that.
    – user1249
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:04
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    To further on Thorbjørn's comment, prior to "in-app payments", the only way Apple could get their cut was if you bought/upgraded from the app store. If developers set aside third-party method to upgrade to the "full version", Apple couldn't get their share of the purchase. I saw this used in for a number of apps a few years ago to bypass having to pay Apple 30% (or whatever their cut is).
    – Craige
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:23
  • so nowadays, the in-app purchase is like an app purchase -- that Apple will take 30% as well? Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:46

4 Answers 4


One thing I don't understand is, many apps have a Free version and a Full version.

Some do, some don't. There's not one specific reason, like "the app store guidelines say you have to do it this way." There are several reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Setting up and administering in-app purchase can be a bit complicated and an ongoing hassle, especially compared to just selling something through the app store.

  • Building two versions of an app from a common code base may be simpler than building one version that dynamically switches from "free" mode to "paid" mode.

  • Having two apps in the app store gets you a little more exposure than just having one. Your apps can be listed in both the "free" and "paid" categories, and searches that find your app will often display both versions.

  • It may be advantageous to have two different bundle identifiers in some cases.

  • +1 for "Having two apps in the app store gets you a little more exposure than just having one. Your apps can be listed in both the "free" and "paid" categories, and searches that find your app will often display both versions."
    – CaffGeek
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 13:33

One obvious answer: if the full version isn't included in the free version, no one can gain unpaid access to the full version by cracking the free version.

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    I thought about that too, but I thought that if the person is using jailbroken version or downloadable version, he can get the full version illegally anyway Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:07
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    @動靜能量- I would imagine most developers that have a free and paid version are doing it as a cheap way to implement a trial period within their application. It is far easier as a developer to simply comment out code, then it is is to worry about trying to implement in-game upgrades, plus like other suggested additional exposer is good.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:25
  • ^ What Mason said. I'd add that when you require a new download, you let Apple worry about all the upgrade transaction/security details with the extra download and you don't have to inside your app at all.
    – anon
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 2:08

Some of these apps may have been created before Apple allowed in-app purchases, and the developers don't want to orphan existing users by removing the old paid version from the store. In-app purchasing also requires the use of a few more APIs and lines of code that some developers may not want to or know how to add. The use of the IAP API can also increase the number of test scenarios needed, and thus test and QA time and/or cost.


if you look at ratings and comments for apps that require in-app purchase to get the complete functionality people often regard it as a ripp-off. why? because people are moving fast and do not read. so they see a free app, read the feature list and download it only to discover later that most features have to be enabled via in-app purchase. of you provide both, free and full version, you have two possibilities to explain it in the app store. and just by adding "free" or "light" to your app name you make it obvious that there are 2 versions with different functionalities. you cannot do this with in-app purchase. in-app purchase is only good for adding new functionality and features, not for unlocking the basic functionality.

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