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As far as I can tell, Google does not provide a mechanism for searching for completely free apps in Google Play. When using the FREE filter, you get both completely free apps and apps with in-app purchases, where some elements are unavailable without paying, so they are not completely free. In some categories, most of apps' content is available via in-app purchases only, so it's misleading to have such apps in the free list.

In the Google Play application, I am able to detect that an app isn't completely free If I open the details page and see "In-app purchases" on the left side. It is inconvenient having to open every app page just to verify this, but at least it's a workaround. Is there some way to include that criteria into the search function?

Additionally, when searching Android apps through a desktop browser (Chrome) instead of the Google Play app on the device, "in-app purchases" does not appear to be displayed, even in the details page of the app.

The question: How to detect or filter out apps that are not completely free, on Google Play?

  • Why would such functionality be in Google's best interest? – fluffy Jan 3 '14 at 20:44
  • You'll probably need to use an alternative marketplace, if one even has that functionality. (I see that AppBrain does not.) What are the alternative Android app markets? – ale Jan 3 '14 at 20:45
  • I wonder what your motivation for filtering out app with IAP is. Different apps uses IAP differently, while there are some IAP app which is unusable without making any purchase, there are also many IAP apps which are fully featured, essentially the same as a free app, where IAP used only for minor things like removing ads or even just to show support to the developer. A crude IAP filter will miss you many great, completely free apps. – Lie Ryan Jan 4 '14 at 2:11
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    @LieRyan, the motivation is very simple. In some categories, almost all apps with IAP are useless, yet they are listed as free. I think this is not a fair approach. A user should have an option to filter out hidden payments as well. Leaving the paid apps in the free category doesn't honor Google. – Stan Jan 4 '14 at 8:35
  • @Lie One reason would be that when installing apps with IAP, Google wants me to set up payment options within the app store, which I have refused since I have my phone. – Jan Doggen Nov 5 '14 at 13:11
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I'd say we've waited it out – as meanwhile this issue seems solved:

Game with in-app purchase prices per item
Screenshots (click to enlarge)

As the first screenshot (top of the page when visiting with the web browser) clearly shows: If an app offers in-app purchases, it is marked such (look where my arrow points to). At the bottom of the page, you can even see the prices per item (second screenshot).

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    Yet how one could search for apps without IAP (without digging into every single product page)? For example, if I searched for "Fixies", I don't see any mention about IAP for your example in the result list. – Stan Jun 4 '15 at 20:48
  • I cannot offer you a complete solution to it, as Google doesn't provide it. The answer would be looking for apps not requesting the vending.BILLING permission. For a limited selection of apps (currently ~11,500) this can be done here on my site – but not for all the ~1 Mio that do exist on GPlay. For details, please see How to search the Play Store by permissions? – and also watch out for "StripSearch" there :) – Izzy Jun 4 '15 at 21:29

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