Spotify will finally allow you to subscribe through the iPhone app

New EU-mandated rules mean that Spotify will bring back in-app subscriptions to its iOS app

(Image credit: r.classen /

It's been nearly eight years since Spotify removed the ability to subscribe from within its iPhone app, but the feature is finally coming back. Once the new EU Digital Markets Act comes into force this March, Spotify says it'll bring back the in-app subscription option for EU residents. It's unclear whether it will also bring the feature back to users in other territories.

The change means that once the app is updated you'll be able to sign up for a Premium subscription or upgrade an existing subscription to a Duo or Family subscription from inside the iOS app. 

That's not the only change Spotify is making. The streamer is also introducing in-app payments that you'll be able to use to buy things such as audiobooks without paying an Apple tax.

That doesn't mean the Apple tax is dead, though: Apple still charges 30% outwith the EU. In the US, Apple has changed its rules to allow developers to bypass its App Store payments system – but it's charging 27% commission on each of those sales. When card processing fees are taken into consideration that could mean skipping the App Store costs developers even more.

Why is Spotify bringing back in-app purchases?

For many years now Spotify has been a vocal critic of Apple's app tax, which takes 30% of any payments made from iOS apps – so a £10 subscription means £3 to Apple. The new Digital Markets Act means Apple can't do that any more, at least for EU customers. 

For Spotify, the DMA is something it wants to see other countries copy. In a statement, the firm said that "It should be this easy for every single Spotify customer everywhere. But if you live outside certain markets, you will continue to encounter frustrating roadblocks because of Apple’s ridiculous rules. That's why developers everywhere are continuing to ask other governments to pass their own laws like the DMA."

The DMA also means that in Europe, Apple will need to allow its customers to install apps from places other than Apple's own App Store. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple still wants a cut: this week the newspaper reported that Apple still intends to screen apps even if they don't come from its own storefront, and it also plans "to collect fees from developers that offer downloads outside of the App Store." Whether that's following the letter of the law is unclear, but it's pretty obvious that it goes against the law's spirit. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).