Get Free

Today Apple updated the App Store to show the word "GET" instead of "FREE" for free-to-download apps. Jason Snell has a good write-up of the change on his site, Six Colors. The basic premise is a reasonable one: A lot of apps labeled "free" aren't really free. They're free to download, but you can (and often must) make in-app purchases in order for them to be useful. For those apps, the "free" label could be misleading.

Nonetheless, I have a few concerns with the change:

  • It doesn't differentiate between apps that are "free with in-app purchases" and apps that are just FREE. I think it's worth labeling apps that are free with no in-app purchases as such.

  • The "GET" label doesn't give users enough information about what will happen when they download the app. Unlike the "FREE" button, it's not immediately obvious that you won't be charged when you tap "GET." True, there's no price listed, but you do have to enter a password or fingerprint using Touch ID. I'm sure that's enough to raise concern among some users that they're about to be charged money to "GET" the app.

I propose two changes that would go a long way toward easing user confusion:

  • List totally free apps (those without in-app purchases) as "FREE."

  • Replace the "GET" button with either the iCloud download icon or change the button text to "FREE TO DOWNLOAD." The former is used elsewhere on iOS in situations where no money changes hands, and the latter uses much clearer wording than "GET." Browse screens, such as the App Store home screen, could retain the "GET" label to save space because it's not a button in that context.