Apple scrubs the term free from the App Store (mostly)

This past July, the European Commission asked both Google and Apple to implement changes to the way they sell “free” games that contain in-app purchases. Yesterday, Apple unveiled a design change that addresses this ruling.

The first thing you’ll notice is the change from “FREE” to “GET”. Where an app with no upfront cost used to be marked with the word “FREE” instead of a price, it is now marked with the word “GET”. This is not a perfect solution (FREE is a price, GET is an action), but it does the job and I suspect it’s something we’ll stop noticing pretty quickly.

The problem is one of nomenclature. What should Apple call the list of free apps if they can’t use the word free? Apps formerly known as free? A list labeled “Get Apps” would just be confusing.

Apple’s current approach is to leave the word FREE as a list label, with a tiny “In-App Purchases” under the GET price rectangle.

My 2 cents: This all feels very forced. It lacks elegance. Presumably, it is a reaction to the European Commission ruling, a change Apple was forced to make and not a purposeful design implementation.

Could this be the tipping point that brings out a total redesign of the App Store or, perhaps, a stopgap solution put in place because a broader solution was not ready for the masses?