iOS 4.3 Protects Against Accidental In-App Purchases

By , Mar 11, 2011

Apple’s iOS 4.3 has been making headlines for weeks. From iTunes Home Sharing to mobile hotspot, new features keep pouring out of Apple’s latest iOS update. With so many big changes, it’s easy for the smaller firmware tweaks to go unnoticed. One of those features, which I was glad to see added, is a required password reentry for in app purchases.

In previous versions of iOS, in app purchases did require a password, but with one major drawback. Apple gave users a 15 minute window after password authentication to make in app purchases. This window was to prevent a choppy App Store experience, especially for users purchasing multiple items. What was so wrong then, that they went and changed it?

There were several reports of outraged parents, whose children had “unintentionally” made in app purchases, due to no password being required. There were always parental control settings to restrict in app purchasing, but the negative publicity was enough to catch the attention of the U.S. Federal trade Commission.

They investigated consumer claims that some applications, aimed at children in particular, weren’t clear on in app purchases. Games like Smurf Village would make in game purchases, like $99 for a wagon of Smurfberries or $19 for a bucket of snow flakes, available to children without a password if they were in that 15 minute window.

Apple responded to the FTC’s concerns with promise to look over the in app purchasing process carefully. Well, whether they felt the concerns of the people were valid, or they just wanted the government off their back, the problem is fixed. All purchases now require a password, with no 15 minute hall pass.

Do you think the fault lies with Apple for the 15 minute window or the parents? Was it a good move to update the process? Tell us your thoughts on it below!

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • appletiser

    fault lies partly at parents for being ingnorant of the parental control option and for allowing their kids to purchase items and Apple for not employing some kind of blocking option to require authentication for purchases over a user defined value for example. instead the rest of us have yet another dialogue box annoyance. i hope someone will design a tweak to disable it.

  • Jason Masters

    It’s no ones fault just good marketing lol!! I’ll sell some smurfberries for 99$ hell I’ll give a discount and sell em for 50$ that’s a real deal!

  • james016

    It’s the parents fault. These kids are either racking up the massive bills within 15mins of the app being downloaded or the parents are giving their kids their iTunes account passwords. Though this new way should have been there from the start. I assume that once you click Buy in the screenshot you’ll have to input your password.

  • Seb

    I’m a parent with two kids, a 9 year old and a 6 year old. They love to play with the multitude of games that are available on my iPhone. They tend to play with my iPhone and my wife’s iPhone quite often.

    If there are any unintentional purchases done by children on their parent’s iPhone or iPad, it’s 100% THE FAULT OF THE PARENT! I made sure I knew what happens when anything reaches the hands of my children. After downloading something I’d either wait the required 15mins, or *gasp* log out of iTunes on my iPhone. Yes, there’s a way to do it. That’s the point, FIGURE IT OUT.

    • Chris

      Sorry Seb, not everyone’s as brilliant as you. Having just bought the iPhone a month ago, I had no idea there was a 15 minute window. Nor do I know about any way to log out of iTunes.
      I don’t recall any instruction booklet being in the box when I bought it. It’s supposedly so easy that there’s no need for one.
      Why don’t you share your great knowledge instead of bashing parents?

      • Seb

        Sorry Chris, but it doesn’t take very much brilliance to do a little research. I didn’t know this either about the iPhone after I just recently bought it either. But when I noticed that when I purchased my first app that I had to log in. Then when I quickly purchased my second I realized that I didn’t have to log in. Is the the overwhelming brilliance that you are saying most parents don’t have? To me it seems more like having a basic amount of observation skills.

        And it’s not just the iPhone. Alot of parents try their best to blame everyone else but themselves. They’re gung-ho at blaming McDonalds for making their kids fat. Well you know what, it’s not rocket science that McDs is unhealthy. Don’t buy it for them. Or perhaps parents are mortified that the video game they purchased for their child when they asked for it has more violence in it than they wanted. Guess what, not only is the description of what the game contains written on the box itself, but there’s this thing called the internet where there are multiple websites that review the games ad-nauseum.

        So instead of getting all “Oh poor little me” on me, how about you do even the tiniest little research before making a fool of yourself. Seems like you didn’t do research before spouting your mouth off here either, so I suppose it may be asking to much from you.

  • Juan

    just an FYI, this feature is also available in 4.2.1.

    • Juan

      arg. i totally read it wrong. my bad, disregard this. =)