Apple iPhone
iPhone users will now be able to pre-order apps from the Apple App Store. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Apple has announced a new feature for the App Store that allows users to pre-order apps and have them downloaded automatically upon release. The new feature has only been introduced to developers, but pre-ordering from the Apple App Store should become available soon.

Developers now have the option to have their upcoming apps be available to pre-order from the Apple App Store. For example, an upcoming app will be listed on the App Store as much as 90 days prior to its official release date. An upcoming app may also be listed as close to two days before its official release. This will only apply to new apps and not to upcoming updates to an already existing app.

The pre-order feature on the App Store will work on free and paid apps. Apps will have a “Pre-Order” label along with a tentative release date. Apple has also set up a new “Pre-Orders” section inside the App Store under the Games tab, according to TechCrunch. Apple says the new pre-order feature will work across iOS, macOS and tvOS as long as users are running the latest version of the operating system.

If an upcoming app isn’t free, its price will also be listed like all other existing apps. To pre-order an app, users just need to tap on the price and tap “pre-order” or tap the “Get” button if it’s free. Users won’t be charged for the app until it’s been officially released, which is similar to how Amazon handles pre-orders from its online store, as pointed out by Engadget.

If a developer decides to change the price of the app before its release, Apple will always charge whatever is lower. For example, a user pre-ordered an app for $0.99, but the developer suddenly changed the price to $1.99 a day later. Apple will only charge the user $0.99 for the same app. This also works the other way around. If the app was originally listed as $1.99 but the developer drops the price to $0.99 before the app’s release, Apple will charge the user $0.99.

When the app is finally released, it will automatically be downloaded and installed on the user’s iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The automatic download will only happen when users are connected to a Wi-Fi network or using their mobile data.

Although the App Store received a major redesign this year, it’s core functionalities for getting apps mainly stayed the same ever since it first launched in 2008. Prior to adding this pre-order feature, the biggest change that Apple introduced was adding app subscriptions in 2016.

Also last year, “Super Mario Run” became the very first app that allowed users to register to be notified when it’s available in the App Store. It seems as though that may have been the precedent to the new pre-order feature.