iOS 4.3 in app purchase, password protection for parents

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There have been many stories in the media where iOS users have seen their children running up big bills by making in-app purchases, this normally happens after acquiring a new game. But now in a welcomed move, Apple have changed its app policy.

Daniel Eran Dilger over at AppleInsider is reporting that in-app purchases now require a password by Apple. Before this, once a password was entered there was a fifteen minute period of time where additional purchases could be made without reentering the password.

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Many parents soon discovered after purchasing a new game, their children had run up bills into hundreds of dollars. There are many iOS games which are built around in-app purchases with the game play reliant on buying more items. Without these controls games which start off cheap or even free, end up being very expensive.

The Washington State Attorney General’s office started to look into the situation last December, and then the US Federal Trade Commission started to get involved soon after. Trudy Muller an Apple spokesperson said in a statement that the company was “proud to have industry-leading parental controls with iOS”.

It was mentioned that users could already restrict in-app purchases to prevent accidental charges on their iTunes accounts. With the new settings parents can stop their children from purchasing new apps, deleting existing apps, downloading iTunes content by rating. Certain apps which download content or interact with strangers can be blocked.

Users can also restrict the use of Location Services, blocking multiplayer games, changing account settings, and the ability to add strangers as friends using the Game Center platform. Once these settings are made they are protected by a PIN code. Users of Android have no control on app purchases or in-app purchases, and the Android Market has many apps with nudity and other adult content.

Have your children ever made purchases without your knowledge?