Google offers in-app subscriptions for Android

Annual and monthly in-app subscriptions offered on Google Play app store

Google has begun offering the option of in-app subscriptions for Android applications hosted on Google Play (the app store formerly known as the Android Market)

"Starting today, developers can use In-app Billing to sell monthly or annual subscriptions from inside of their apps," Google Play product manager Ibrahim Elbouchikhi wrote in a blog entry.

All in-app subscriptions are auto-renewing, so users are charged at intervals set by developers. The transaction will be treated the same as the purchase of a new app or a non-subscription in-app purchase.

According to Google, 23 of 24 top-selling apps on the Play store use in-app billing.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network has warned consumers to be wary of bill shock, however. "As in-app billing becomes more … there might be some issues in terms of tracking down the people that actually create the apps, so jurisdiction issues if they're overseas for example, in terms of Australians' rights if there has been incorrect billing," an ACCAN spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said that parents should be careful to check if they're purchasing an app for a child whether it's a one-off purchase or the app offers in-app purchases.

"It's a situation that we're keeping a watching brief on," the spokeswoman said.

"As in all of these areas of telecommunications the technology is moving really, really fast, [and] the regulations and legislation around that really struggle to keep up."

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