Apple adds ‘in-app purchase’ warning to freemium apps

Apple today has added a new ‘Offers In-App Purchases’ warning in the description of App Store apps that utilize the feature. The new disclosure can be seen in the App Store, located just beneath the Buy/Free button of pertinent applications.

The move comes amidst multiple reports of children running up monster iTunes bills, unbeknownst to their parents, via in-app purchases. Earlier this month, a young boy from the UK racked up $1,300 in charges buying virtual donuts

The Guardian reports:

“Apple has made a small but significant change to iOS app listings on its App Store, adding a prominent “Offers In-App Purchases” line for freemium apps on its store. The new tagline is currently only appearing in the desktop version of the App Store that sits within iTunes. For now, it’s not shown in the iOS App Store app, nor does it appear on webpages for iOS apps.

Apple confirmed to The Guardian that the message is a new addition to the App Store. Its location – directly below the icon and “Free” button on each app’s page – makes it even easier for people to identify that an app uses in-app purchases (IAP) before downloading it.”

The report points out that, as metadata for iOS apps, the new disclosure could be used in a future settings change that enables users (parents, in particular) to easily filter out applications that use in-app purchases when browsing the App Store.

Apple has run into a number of problems with its IAP feature since launching it in late 2009. Even after adding a safeguard in iOS 4.3, it’s hard to refund several $1000-$2000 iTunes bills, and it was recently forced to settle a class action lawsuit.

I’ve always found it odd that Apple can be held so accountable for children making in-app purchases. I mean, there’s ways for parents to prevent this from happening. Besides, if your child gets sick from eating too many Oreos, could you sue Nabisco?

What do you think about all of this?