New 'in-app purchases' warning on iTunes, after furore

Apple has brought a new warning to iTunes, hoping to stop any more unwanted in-app spending sprees.

Remember that family whose son racked up £1,700 worth of in-app purchases in 10 minutes on his dad's iPad ? Apple is taking steps to ensure that kind of thing doesn't happen again, by introducing a warning on iTunes for apps that encourage you to spend once you've downloaded, the Guardian reports.

Any such app now bears the warning "Offers In-App Purchases", as you can see from the Temple Run 2 icon here. But is it enough?

Initially, the warning only appeared on the desktop version of iTunes, so if you were browsing on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, it didn't show up. It was quickly extended to mobile devices, however, and a good thing too -- more than two thirds of iTunes downloads go directly to iOS devices.

The Cupertino company has been in hot water recently over in-app purchases (or freemium apps). As well as reimbursing the family whose five-year-old spent £1,700 on Zombies vs Ninja, Apple has settled a US lawsuit concerning similar cases , agreeing to shell out £66 million in refunds to disgruntled parents.

Apple has said it's up to parents to familiarise themselves with the parental controls on its devices, which you can do here. Parents can turn off in-app purchases in the settings.

I think a large burden falls on the parents to monitor what their kids are up to on their devices, but obviously this isn't possible at all times. Apple should get tighter on what's allowed to be sold in-app. Virtual items costing £70 a pop, in a game suitable for nine-year-olds, for example, seems frankly ridiculous to me.

And it's not just apps on iTunes that let you rack up a huge bill either -- Android's app emporium isn't completely innocent either.

Should there be more regulation on what companies flog in-app? Or is it up to the parents to ensure the proper restrictions are in place? Let me know in the comments, or on Facebook.

Update 25 March: An earlier version of this story stated that the warning only appeared on the desktop version of iTunes. This is no longer the case and the article has been updated accordingly.

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About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.

     

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