Apple's in-app purchasing system received an important change in iOS 4.3 that requires a password when purchases are made within an application after it is downloaded. As Apple said on thursday that it changed its policy for how purchases can be made within applications on the iPhone and iPad, an attempt to protect users, particularly children, from accidentally racking up iTunes charges.
Parents had complained to the The Post that in the 15-minute period after an app was downloaded, children were buying sometimes hundreds of dollars of purchases on games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo -- popular iTunes games that are also among the highest-grossing programs for in-app purchases.
After charges are made through a password-protected prompt, Apple allows for users to conduct recurring charges within 15 minutes without having to reenter their password. The changes made this week by Apple protect users who were seeing recurring charges made after the download of an application.
The idea is that if a password is submitted to in-app purchases, the user is aware of the iTunes charges being made. Some users like the ability to quickly make multiple charges without the inconvenience of re-entering a password.
But some consumer protection experts say Apple's move may not extinguish concerns by regulators and lawmakers. Linda Goldstein, chair of the advertising and marketing division at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips law firm, said the in-app purchases cut across many consumer protection issues: marketing to children and recurring charges to a "non-traditional billing device."