New Apple protection to stop accidental in-app purchases

Mar 14, 2014

Apple introduces new warnings after children run up bills of thousands of pounds

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

APPLE has introduced new warnings on its devices to prevent people from making accidental in-app purchases that can cost anything from 69p to £69.99.

The pop-up warning was introduced in a new update to the iPhone's operating system to help protect users from mistakenly spending money through their phones and tablets.

Many games, applications and productivity tools on the App Store have components that may be purchased after the initial download by entering password details into the app. After the validation is entered, however, a user can make further in-app purchases for up to 15 minutes without re-entering their credentials.

The new alert also allows users to change their settings so that every purchase is password protected – many parents have been calling for this change so that they can let their children play games on an iPhone or iPad without the fear of running up huge bills.

The change was implemented in response to a class action in the US over in-app purchases made by children, The Guardian reports.

The class action alleged: "Apple failed to adequately disclose that third-party game apps, largely available for free and rated as containing content suitable for children, contained the ability to make in-app purchases."

The action was settled out of court in February 2013 for an estimated $100m (£60m). This January, Apple was ordered to refund all purchases made without the permission of the account holder. Tens of thousands of complaints were made, including one from a woman who reported that her child had spent $2,600 in the Tap Pet Hotel app without her permission.

Some critics say that the new pop-up warning fails to adequately address the problem of accidental purchases, and that further protections are required.

Google faces a similar law suit for "unfairly profiting" from games in the Play store that enable "unauthorised charges for in-app game currency without parents' knowledge". The lawsuit is ongoing.

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