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Linking to Subscription Management Settings

One common argument I hear from the Apple community against subscriptions is that most customers don’t know how to manage their subscription settings. It’s difficult, they say, to explain in a customer support interaction how a customer can cancel or alter a subscription. And because customers are confused about how to cancel or manage subscriptions, many customers may be afraid to start an auto-renewing subscription in the first place.

These are fair points. I definitely agree Apple could do a better job of exposing subscription management settings in iTunes. Oddly, the subscription management page can be found (with some effort) in the App Store app, in the iTunes Store app, and also in the Settings app, which adds to the confusion.[1] As you can reach the same subscription page from multiple places, there’s no single definitive set of instructions we all use.

No wonder customers and Apple pundits get confused.

If Apple were to place the link to subscription management somewhere more obvious in the Settings app, perhaps under the iTunes & App Store section—or better yet, right in the top-line Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store—that would be a big improvement. Adding an easier-to-find link in the iTunes Store and App Store apps would also be welcome.

Fortunately, developers can help make finding subscription settings easier, too.

Just in case some folks are unaware, and for those who have argued that developers should be able to provide a way to manage subscription settings from within their apps, I wanted to point out that developers, can, at least, provide a direct link to their customers’ subscription management settings. Your customers can manage their subscription to your app from your app, as long as you provide them with this link.[2]

The more places this link is made available, the faster we can overcome any customer fears of not being able to find subscription settings.

I did a quick check, and just about all the apps to which I currently subscribe (including Castro, Weather Up, GifWrapped, Ulysses, Carrot Weather, Drafts—just to name a few) provide a quick link within their own settings pages that takes you to the iTunes subscription management page. So good devs, at least, seem to be doing the right thing. (Surprise, surprise.) Unless you are actively trying to discourage your customers from finding a way to unsubscribe from your app (Don’t be that dev.) there’s no excuse not to make this link an easy tap within your own application.[3]

When I approached placing this link in RECaf, I decided I’d make it a top-line item in the More tab. Since I had a More tab for miscellaneous items, and subscription status is not technically an app setting, I figured it made sense to put subscription status right there at the top level. You could argue that more customers will expect it to be inside app settings, since that’s where a lot of developers put this link.

Feel free to find a place where it makes the most sense for your app.


Tap on the subscription status cell, and RECaf will take you to the appropriate place in the iTunes Store app to manage your subscriptions.

To make things easy for these sorts of links, I like to create a quick extension on UIApplication. That way, I avoid repeating a lot of code if I need to link from more than one place in the app.

extension UIApplication {
    class func openAppSettings() {
        guard let url = URL(string: self.openSettingsURLString) else { return }, options: [:], completionHandler: nil)
    class func openSubscriptionManagement() {
        guard let url = URL(string: "itms://") else { return }, options: [:], completionHandler: nil)

With this extension in place, wherever I want to link to the subscription page, I just call UIApplication.openSubscriptionManagement() and the app does the right thing.[4]

Note, my URL uses itms://, which will pop customers directly to the iTunes Store app, bypassing the need to first bounce to Safari.[5] It’s also not app-specific. That exact generic link will go to the correct place in iTunes Store from any app.

There may be a better way to code a quick link to the subscription management page. Feel free to let me know. But the point is, there’s no reason your customers should need to contact you to find this link, if you put it somewhere obvious enough. And even if they do contact you, you should be able to point them to a button within your own app, rather than having to walk them through several steps in Settings, App Store, or iTunes Store.

The more apps provide this link to the management page, the faster the argument that subscriptions are too hard to manage becomes moot.

And Apple, if you’re listening, take a look at my suggestions above for making it easier to find subscription management elsewhere in the system. Also, adding a static variable on UIApplication, or wherever you feel it would be appropriate, (something like UIApplication.openSubscriptionManagementSettingsURLString, perhaps?) would go a long way to making it even easier for devs to provide a link without having to worry about the URL changing in the future.

  1. As with so many App Store oddities, this is likely a byproduct of App Store being duct-taped onto iTunes. Subscription management is actually just a web page, really, which is why you can find it in either app. Both apps are presenting a web view of the same url: Type that in Safari, even on a Mac, and you’ll be sent to the same place in iTunes. ↩︎

  2. They will still get bounced out of the app, but the process is pretty obvious once they reach that main subscription management page. ↩︎

  3. I’d love to see Apple require this link to be present in our apps. It would be one more item for the App Review team to check, but it would go a long way to help curb scam apps that trick you into signing up and then leave you with no obvious way to unsubscribe. ↩︎

  4. The first function in that extension openAppSettings() is another good one for giving your customers one-tap access to the Settings page that’s usually found in the long list of third-party apps in the Settings app. This is a great way to provide quick access to Siri shortcut settings, notification settings, background app refresh, and so on. Don’t make your customers scroll through that super-long list of third-party apps in Settings just to find this stuff. ↩︎

  5. I’ve noticed a lot of the apps to which I subscribe use https://, which is fine. You still get to the right place eventually. But eliminating that middle Safari redirect is not only more convenient; it also makes it a simple matter to switch right back to your app when the customer is done. ↩︎