Children enjoying the digital delights of Smurfs’ Village and other popular iOS games will no longer be able to purchase additional items within the app without first entering a password, thanks to a new safety precaution implemented by Apple in iOS 4.3.
Some iOS games, like Capcom’s Smurfs’ Village, offer in-app purchases for extra game elements.Previously, when users tapped out their Apple ID and password to buy an app or make an in-app purchase, their device would store that password for 15 minutes. This time window was initially implemented so that users wouldn’t have to repeatedly re-enter information if making multiple purchases at one time; unfortunately, it appears that children were also taking advantage of this to rack up unexpected charges when playing games with in-app purchases.
Over the last few months, parents and government agencies alike have expressed concern over how Apple and app makers handle the issue. With iOS 4.3, Apple removed the time window, now prompting a password for every purchase (in-app or otherwise).
Apple representative Trudy Muller spoke with the Washington Post on the matter, noting that “[Apple is] proud to have industry-leading parental controls with iOS.” The company has always provided restriction controls on iOS devices that allowed users to turn off the installation or deletion of an app, as well as switch off in-app purchases entirely. Muller confirmed the removal of the 15 minute window, stating “with iOS 4.3, in addition to a password being required to purchase an app on the App Store, a reentry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase.”
While this change may ease parental fears, it may frustrate the general user population, as there is currently no way to disable it for those who prefer quicker purchases.