Google is testing a new method of selling subscription services with selected Android developers that will enable customers to purchase a Play Store subscription without even first installing the app. The news, reported today, it was first featured last week when Google announced version 3 of the Google Play Billing Library, an updated set of developer tools to process Play Store payments and handle digital goods purchases that coincided with the release of the Android 11.
“Billing Library version 3 allows users’ right to find and buy things outside of the app, such as via the Play Store,” reads the blog post from Google. It automatically enrolls in a paid subscription that starts when the free trial ends. Google allows developers to receive and process a future payment if the customer does not opt-out or cancel while the trial is still active.
It says that the feature is not just about stopping with promos. It will expand over a Play Shop catalog of constructive subscription transactions. In this way, you will be able to update and upgrade to an app while enjoying the free trial all in one move as well. An example here is the True Caller robocall-blocking app, which has a three-day free trial before kicks in a $2.99-per-month subscription. Google now let’s True Caller offer all of that in a single bundle with the option “free trial & install” next to the standard install button.
That way, you wouldn’t have to go through the process of signing up and confirming payment details within the app if you installed the app without perhaps reading that it involved a paid subscription. Or you could not be put off by discovering that the functionality that drew you to the app needed a subscription in the first place. You will do all of this in advance, and be ready to go when the software launches.
All this seems to be part of Google’s wider endeavor to support digital subscription services and to reward developers who play by rules. These apps often use the allure of a free trial to trick users into agreeing to doubtful terms in advance and making it difficult to cancel afterward.
Google announced in April that it will continue to enforce regulations surrounding in-app subscriptions and make it easy and cancel them and push developers to be more open about billing times, free trial periods, and other strategies that could be used to cheat customers. Only yesterday, the rules took effect.