Apple has launched a simple but useful new feature for the App Store: the ability to preorder apps and have them automatically downloaded upon their release.
A developer will now be able to put their app in the App Store up to 90 days in advance of its release, rather than only being able to publish their app when it’s ready to launch. Once it’s up, customers will be able to choose to preorder it and have the app delivered when it’s ready. The feature is available on all iterations of the App Store, so iOS, macOS, and even tvOS apps can all be offered for preorder.
Developers can offer both free and paid preorders. If the price changes during the preorder period, customers will be charged whichever is lower: the price they preordered it at, or the price at launch. They won’t be charged until the app downloads.
While it won’t be used for every app, there is a lot that does get announced in advance, particularly games. If a developer is trying to draw attention to their new app, it’s a huge help to be able to point people to where they can actually get it — and let people buy it ahead of time so that they don’t forget.
Google has offered a similar feature for a couple years now, allowing customers to “pre-register” for an app release. That feature only notifies customers when an app is available, though — it doesn’t let them lock in a pre-order price and have it automatically download.
Still, this is a really basic feature that’s helpful to both shoppers and developers, and it’s kind of puzzling that it took Apple nearly a decade to add it. I look forward to being able to download apps on a trial basis sometime around 2025.