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iOS 4.3 now requires password for in app purchases

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Responding to complaints from parents whose children made expensive in app purchases immediately after downloading a new game, Apple has changed its in app purchase policy to require a password.

Previously, once users entered their password for an app purchase, iOS opened a fifteen minute window during which additional purchases could be made without reentering the password. This also applied to in app purchases.

But some parents who purchased a new game for their children discovered that within the first fifteen minutes, their children had incurred in app charges up into the hundreds of dollars, according to a report by the Washington Post.

A variety of iOS games have a business model oriented around in app purchases, often making gameplay essentially contingent upon buying items. Without parental controls in place to prevent children from making the purchases, such titles can quickly get expensive.

The Washington State Attorney Generals office began looking into the matter in December, and the US Federal Trade Commission became involved shortly afterward. Mass. state Representative Ed Markey referred to Apple's in app purchases policy as "deceitful marketing," and the report noted that public interest groups have asked "why $99 barrels for 'snowflakes' and 'Smurfberries' are in a children-focused game, when children may not understand that they are racking up real charges."

Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller addressed the change in policy by saying in a statement, "we are proud to have industry-leading parental controls with iOS, noting that users have been able to restrict in-app purchases to protect their iTunes accounts from accidental charges within Parental Controls settings from the start.

With iOS 4.3, in addition to a password being required to purchase an app on the App Store, a reentry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase, Muller explained.

iOS Parental Controls

Under Settings / General / Restrictions, parents can prevent their children from downloading new apps, deleting existing apps, making in app purchases, or downloading apps or other iTunes content by rating. Specific apps that can be used to download content or interact with strangers can also be blocked, including Safari, YouTube, and FaceTime.

Other settings include restricting the use of Location Services, changing account settings, and blocking multiplayer games or the ability to add strangers as friends within the Game Center multi-gaming platform. Once set, the settings are protected by a PIN code.

In contrast, Google's Android platform and its Android Market offer no parental controls on buying or browsing apps or in app purchases, while the Android Market itself contains unfiltered nudity and other adult content that parents might not want their children to access.
post #2 of 23
It sucks being popular.
post #3 of 23
So parents couldn't be responsible and use the tools Apple gave them, or even just watch their kids while playing, so Apple burdens responsible adults with this annoyance. Wonder how long before Apple gets a complaint about that.

I also wonder how many of these parents who just handed their kid an iPhone etc, telling them the password or not turning off iap also let their 6 year olds have facebook accounts and complain when the kiddies (who again aren't being watched) friend some perv who sends them naked photos or worse

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #4 of 23
My buddy just told me yesterday that after he purchased an app on his iPad, his 4 year old picked up his iPad and purchased something - luckily it was only $.99.
post #5 of 23
My son has an iPad and when we buy something for him, I have to turn it completely off and on again so that he can't go make more purchases. Even that doesn't work sometimes.
This is a welcomed addition!
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

So parents couldn't be responsible and use the tools Apple gave them, or even just watch their kids while playing, so Apple burdens responsible adults with this annoyance. Wonder how long before Apple gets a complaint about that.

Nah, this is a bit of an overreaction. I've run across some apps which contain innocuous purchase links and there's plenty of scenarios such as a kiddo picking up an iPhone and poking away at a button here and there (beyond the perfectly valid example of children using these devices). In-app purchasing probably isn't a frequent and common task for many people at all, so this sort of safety feature is warranted. They should have included it from the start.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #7 of 23
It's nice to be able to buy stuff wantonly, but the iPad (and iPod Touch) is a shared device, and I can see how kids have way more access to it than they might with an iPhone.

If the password is cached per app, this would probably be negligible for usability.

Edit: I also think this is a great differentiating feature compared to Android or other tablet OSs (when they come out)
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

My buddy just told me yesterday that after he purchased an app on his iPad, his 4 year old picked up his iPad and purchased something - luckily it was only $.99.

So apparently it only asks for IAP buys. You still can do regular ones just fine. Unless restrictions are on.

Unlike some folks all the iDevices in my family have purchase restrictions turned on. Yes it is a tad annoying having to put in extra passwords but at least this way if one of the kids does grab something they can't do any damage

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #9 of 23
Did not think iOS 4.3 was out to the Verizon iPhone. Check out the picture.
post #10 of 23
No smurfing way! Get the smurf out of here. That's a great smurfing update. Now my smurfing kids won't be racking up hundreds of smurfing dollars on my smurfing credit card bill.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Mass. state Representative Ed Markey referred to Apple's in app purchases policy as "deceitful marketing," and the report noted that public interest groups have asked "why $99 barrels for 'snowflakes' and 'Smurfberries' are in a children-focused game, when children may not understand that they are racking up real charges."

Typical of todays society - blame your parenting mistakes on somebody else. I'm surprised there is not a class action suit being filed on behalf of all parents and of course their offspring for the harm that Apple et al heaped upon them by letting them use a game without checking it out. Oooops - I do see a problem with the suit thing because the 'reasonable man' would check into things like this.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

No smurfing way! Get the smurf out of here. That's a great smurfing update. Now my smurfing kids won't be racking up hundreds of smurfing dollars on my smurfing credit card bill.

Seriously, the Smurf game should be banned from the app store, even with the new protection, which I applaud.

I really don't understand the gamers who so adamantly defend this game. It is a devious scam. Top grossing but not for the right reasons (too expensive add-ons, misleading). Unfortunately true, but I am just wondering what part of the proceeds have been accidental? I bet with the new relogin policy, they may not remain top-grossing.
post #13 of 23
My daughter unknowingly spent over $100 on ... wait for it ... Zombie Brains in Zombie Farm. She had no idea she was pending real money.

Apple quickly refunded my money (thank you) when I contacted them but what happened if I did not check or see my receipt.

Glad to see them make this change and help keep devious business models outta that App Store

post #14 of 23
The more parental controls in this, the better.
post #15 of 23
Two words: Parental Controls.

OK, two more words: Responsible Parenting.
post #16 of 23
I like the idea of requiring a password. This should also help prevent IAP that are done without the users knowledge for those developers with less scrupples.
post #17 of 23
I applaud the change. As for responsibility? Keeping your password secret is responsible. Buying apps for your kids is responsible. Writing a "kids" game that charges $99 to proceed through the game? That's irresponsible.

Apple has found a happy medium by allowing the business model but making the accidental purchases unlikely. Now the market can decide. It will be interesting to see how long these freemium games remain on the top grossing list.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Two words: Parental Controls.

OK, two more words: Responsible Parenting.

Two words: privilege escalation.

One more word: fixed.
post #19 of 23
Good change
post #20 of 23
Why can't parents take control and require their children get permission from them before making purchases. If parents gave their children credit card access then they have themselves to blame. Parents....police your own damn kids!!!!
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgreencrna View Post

Why can't parents take control and require their children get permission from them before making purchases. If parents gave their children credit card access then they have themselves to blame. Parents....police your own damn kids!!!!

The parents didn't give their children credit card access.

The app was free; the children asked the parents to download the app. The parents, seeing that the app was free, agreed to do so, and therefore they punched in the iTunes password to download the app. Behind their backs, and unbeknownst to them, the password was stored in the iPhone's cache, so any future purchases for the next several minutes would be automatically approved without the need to re-enter the iTunes password.

The children, happily playing their new game, would be offered a chance to buy Smurf berries inside the game, and they'd go ahead and do it.

The target audience of this game is too young to have any understanding of the fact that those Smurf berries are actually costing real money, because to them real money means little round shiny metal coins and pieces of paper.

There is, of course, already a workaround. Parental controls can be used to turn off in-app purchases entirely. But then, there is an extra inconvenience when the parent really wants to make an in-app purchase -- they have to go into the Parental Controls section and temporarily disable the protection. Then that have the additional inconvenience of remembering to go back to the Parental Controls settings after they're done, to reactivate the prohibition on in-app purchases.

Either way there are inconveniences. But the original system created an inconvenience that was unsafe by default, and the new system creates an inconvenience that is safe by default. The original process is so full of opportunities for the user to make mistakes, it's unbelievable that the folks in charge of user experience and UI design at Apple ever allowed it out the door in the first place. This change reduces the opportunities for errors to be made, and for that reason alone it is overwhelmingly the better design choice.
post #22 of 23
this makes complete sense to me. i think it's a good fix. even if you take kids out of the equation, i'd like to be asked if i'm sure i want to plunk down more money. asking for my password does that.
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post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgreencrna View Post

Why can't parents take control and require their children get permission from them before making purchases?

Exactly the point. The answer? Because in-app purchases didn't require permission! This is now fixed.

Keep in mind that it may not be the child's iOS device, but rather the parent lending them their device to play on.
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