UK Apple users will see the cost of many apps jump by 25% or more in the next few days, with those currently costing 79p likely to rise to 99p, for example. If you're planning on buying something soon, do it now to beat the hike.
The change to the iOS App Store pricing tiers, which Apple says are set according to "several factors, including currency exchange rates", follows a spate of price hikes across Apple's hardware products over the past six months.
Apple won't say exactly when prices will rise, but has said it will be "this week" – so if you want to buy something, go fast. Apple says the price of films, TV shows, music and books in the iTunes Store won't change.
What prices are changing?
The change Apple's making doesn't necessarily mean that the price of individual apps is going up – instead, what Apple's doing is hiking the price of the different tiers on which they sit. So apps presently sold at 79p – currently the lowest price tier for paid apps – will soon cost 99p, unless developers choose to lower their apps' prices to one of two new tiers (49p and 79p).
Apple says it won't release a full list of the new pricing tiers, but the 25%+ increase will be reflected across the board. So Nintendo's new Super Mario Run game, for example, may go from £7.99 to £9.99, unless the game's developer chooses to drop the app to a lower price tier in the UK store.
In-app purchases, offered as extras from within an app, will also be going up by the same margin. However, subscriptions to third party services signed up to through iOS apps, such as Spotify and Netflix, will not be affected.
The change will put UK prices on a par with US prices, once taxes are factored in. Apps now costing 99 cents in the US store (roughly 80p at today's exchange rate) will soon sell for 99p in the UK. Yet UK prices include 20% VAT, while US prices don't include sales tax, which varies by state and is added at checkout.
Why is Apple doing this?
An Apple spokesperson says: "Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes and the cost of doing business. These factors vary from region to region and over time."
Can't I just switch to the US store and pay less?
It is possible to switch to the App Store of another country – however to do so, you need a valid form of payment for the country in question. Remember, in some countries, including the US, sales tax will be added at checkout.
It's also worth bearing in mind that if you switch to a different country's App Store the purchases you made in a previous country's store won't transfer over. While the apps already on your device won't be deleted, you won't be able to re-download or update them if needed.
For full info on the pros and cons of switching to a different country's App Store, see the Apple website.