in-app purchase iOS 7

In-App Purchase, a way overused feature which provides a way for supposedly free games and apps to ask users for cash in order to enable advanced features or unlock virtual items, is increasingly drawing ire of regulators across the globe.

In-App Purchases are notorious for fooling less-informed adults and kids into downloading so-called freemium apps so it’s no wonder the European Union officials have repeatedly warned that companies like Apple and Google should stop labeling free-to-download apps that contain In-App Purchases as “Free”.

Companies could soon be forced to make the “true cost of apps” unambiguously clear before purchase, according to a complaint the European Commission filed today…

BBC News reports that EU officials are angered by Apple’s silence on the matter and have formally objected that Apple hasn’t responded yet to its complaints nor has the company implemented the required changes in order to protect consumers from “free” downloads.

Furthermore, the EU Commission warned that national authorities had the option to take legal action against companies that were deemed not to be complying with Europe’s guidance on free apps requiring that the “true cost” of games be made clear.

in-app purchase iOS 7

The Commission wrote in a statement in respect to Apple:

Regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorization.

Reminding us that Apple has “proposed to address those concerns,” the Commission warns that “no firm commitment and no timing” have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes.

Apple in its response (via Engadget) argues its privacy controls go “far beyond the features of others in the industry,” adding that upcoming iOS 8 features such as Ask to Buy will give parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.

Apple takes great pride in leading the industry in parental controls that are incredibly easy to use and help ensure a great experience for parents and children on the App Store. The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable. And over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We’ve also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13.

These controls go far beyond the features of others in the industry. But we are always working to strengthen the protections we have in place, and we’re adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.

Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.

Interestingly enough, Google has already decided on a number of Play store changes due to come into force by September. Specifically, the Internet giant has agreed to stop calling games with in-app purchases free. It’ll also create targeted guidelines for games to prevent encouragement of children to buy items.

I’ve always hated In-App Purchases.

I have no doubt in my mind that Apple had good intentions conceiving In-App Purchases. The feature was supposed to address the lack of upgrade pricing for apps sold in the App Store.

Unfortunately, app developers (some, not all) took advantage of In-App Purchases at the expense of consumers, resulting with a situation where the In-App Purchase mechanism has been misappropriated to the point of travesty.

  • Christopher P. Todd

    This strikes me as just some busywork proposed by individuals who can’t (or don’t want to) be bothered to fix much more grave problems with society, politics and economy.

    • Eni

      That is a grave problem for they countrys becoze the lose millions in just one year. just with in-app pucrcases

    • The EU needs to stop snooping around in places they shouldn’t be. If an app is free then it’s free. Apple already tells people if an app has in app purchases or not (and what for and how much) so what more can they do? I for one personally avoid all freemium apps and refuse to play or download them and everyone else can do the same thing too should they want to…

      • Chris

        Most people don’t know iPhone and that unlike you fan boy who won’t have a word said against the. My mother has a iPhone and she likes the phone but knows little about it and my son managed to ring up £100 in iap apps and she didn’t have a clue. So mybe you should look at some people that have a iPhone coz it a phone not coz they love apple so much and they really do think they have took that byte from it

        They shouldn’t be iap at all tbh download the app at a cost and that’s it or it free app and they have adverts on it full stop

      • Disasterpiece

        Apple has restrictions built in… and a guide on how to use them. They literally prevent all IAP when set up. A giant button explaining in app purchases in the App Store. There is nothing left but people being responsible for their kids.

        I would think by now most people would know phones are just phones anymore… they are wallets and diaries. You wouldn’t give a kid your wallet or diary, so why give them your phone??? #clue

      • Chris

        Nope not like that at all yer you can turn off in settings but for some people it is a hassle yer poss there falt for not turning off but to be fair in the App Store I would have a section in there for such apps that require more funds to get full app that would be the easy part the reason apple don’t do this coz they would lost loads of money. And to the fanboys Apple is there to make money to to make people so happy

      • Disasterpiece

        “but for some people it is a hassle…”

        so it’s Apple, Google, Amazon, etc fault for people not wanting to use the system created to help prevent incidences like what is happening… Gee, now I see your logic.

        ” Apple is there to make money not to make people so happy”

        Yeah, I mean, what business would dare to want to make money??? The audacity of them! I’m shocked!!

      • Achy

        I’m sorry, but you sound like an idiot.

      • valentyn0

        You’re the biggest idiot then, for just saying absolutely nothing of worth.

  • Donovan

    The apps are free. You don’t have to do IAPs. There just needs to be a switch somewhere in settings what disables all IAPs. Problem solved.
    Edit: we have Restrictions, I just never checked that out. Maybe the fix is already there?

    • D R

      the main problem is the default, which is to permit IAPs for 15 minutes after entering your password. If they reversed it, to require the password always, it would generally fix the problem of kids doing IAPs without the parents password.

      the other problem is that it’s misleading how these apps are displayed, with “Free” in large, bold, black, easy to read print, and “Offers In-App Purchases” in much smaller, grey, harder to read print away from the free button.

  • (JailbreakQA) King Shoot

    Looks like I’ll need to pirate more soon 😛

  • Disasterpiece

    This headline is entirely inaccurate. The committee was disappointed they had no “firm timeframe”. Apple didn’t tell them iOS 8’s release date. That’s it.

    We are living in a nanny state where nobody takes responsibility for themselves or those they care for… It’s always someone else’s fault. The UK and South Korea block porn by default to prevent kids/adults from being exposed… yeah, because no one is going to want to have sex without internet porn EVER!