In-app purchasing is a growing trend with FREE apps right now as it’s a great way for developers and the app platforms to monetize. Google has gone one stage further with Google Play now adding in-app subscriptions – no surprise here folks. Expect Apple and others to follow the Google lead very soon. So where is the problem?
The problem is the monetization is targeting kids, and it’s the parents that are paying the tab for their kids. Smurfs’ Village anyone? Kids have no idea that virtual currency is actually real currency when spending on virtual in-game items. Why should they – they are kids! Kids are actually more savvy with computers and smartphones than their parents, so it’s no surprise parents need as much help as possible with protecting their kids and their bank accounts! Parents earn the money, so they have a right to protect it – don’t they?
FACT: Right now only 2% of Android apps use in-app purchasing, according to the Distimo in-app purchasing report released earlier this month. This is only the beginning folks!
So what about Apple iOS? The ability to delete apps and turn off in-app purchases isn’t easy to find in iOS. It was never meant to be easy and for good financial reasons. Apple now also requires the user to enter a password for every in-app purchase. Some devices (i.e. iOS) also allow you to adjust the time necessary before a password is required to purchase content. The wording can be confusing too. For the techies out there, it’s also doubtful Apple would let security companies access the Store Kit API to manage the in-app purchases (in the event the passcode is compromised). TIP: Make sure you use a different PIN to the one you use for opening your iOS device.
To restrict in-app purchases for iOS devices: Settings > General > Restrictions > Touch “Enable Restrictions” and enter a PIN code. Re-enter your PIN to confirm.
If you use Android for In-app purchasing: In-app purchasing is managed via Google Play, so this is where you will have to set up the PIN for allowing apps access. If you use the Amazon Appstore then you can also setup a PIN from Menu > Settings > Parental Controls and select “Enable Parental Controls” – enter your Amazon password. TIP: Use a PIN instead of your Amazon password for in-app purchase authorisation. Check the box “Use PIN”.
If you don’t believe controlling in-app purchasing is important then you might want to know that Amazon Appstore recently announced it will not be enforcing in-app charging limits on its developer community. Expect Apple, Microsoft and others to follow the Amazon lead very soon.
Safe surfing folks!