The iTunes Connect service will no longer allow developers to include pricing information in the metadata for an app that is submitted to the App Store for sale.

Applications that are submitted by developers for sale on the App Store and Mac App Store will now be rejected should they include reference to pricing, including the word ‘Free’, in metadata for the app.

This decision was made in an apparent effort to stop developers from pushing their apps with ‘Free’ in the title, a technique for setting free apps apart from other apps in a crowded marketplace.

Apple has long discouraged this practice, urging developers not to ‘reference specific prices’ in screenshots or metadata. The iTunes Connect developer guide states that ‘referencing a local currency can mislead customers in other territories and cause confusion.’

Should an app be submitted for review with ‘Free’ in the title or metadata, the developer will receive a rejection notice from Apple. The notice states that the app submission has been rejected due to the inclusion of price information, and developers are instructed to remove references to price ‘including any references to your app being free or discounted’ before the app is resubmitted for approval.

Pricing information may be included in the description, and changed in the appropriate section of iTunes Connect.

A representative from Apple confirmed the change in policy but offered no further comment.

App downloads to mobile devices represent a huge, expanding market for developers. Total app downloads for both Apple and Android devices are expected to reach 270 billion this year, representing an increase of almost 50 billion downloads from 2016.

In 2013, over 90% of apps were available free to consumers, making money for developers through advertising or in-app purchases. In 2014, Apple changed the labels on Apple, Inc. apps from ‘Free’ to ‘Get’, which may have been the result of settlements paid in 2013 and 2014 to consumers for charges on in-app purchases for ‘free’ apps. This may become the standard for apps offered by independent developers for the future.

Apps that currently reference pricing in metadata remain unaffected, but presumably will be required to change the language in future app updates.