Blog Post

Apple Changes In-App Purchase Password Requirements After Complaints

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has closed a loophole that let iOS application users make in-app purchases following downloads without having to enter a password, following inquiries from regulators and complaints from parents.

The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO), which first brought attention to the loophole earlier this year, reported that Apple’s iOS 4.3, released yesterday, comes with a change that requires iPhone or iPad users to enter a password if they want to make an in-app purchase within 15 minutes of having downloaded a new app. Parents had complained to the Post and the Federal Trade Commission that their kids were downloading apps from the App Store and racking up huge in-app purchase bills without fully understanding that they were actually spending Mom and Dad’s real money on those accessories in Smurfs’ Village.

Apple had designed in-app purchase authorization controls to allow multiple in-app purchases within 15 minutes of the last time one’s password was entered, because entering a password for every single purchase could grow tiresome, but that meant there was a 15-minute window between the download and the next time a password would be required. Now, the first in-app purchase following a download requires a password.

The Post suggested that those complaining that such apps prey on children may not be so easily mollified (does it really cost $99 for a wagon of Smurfberries? I mean, they’re good and all, but…) by Apple’s changes, but it will be harder for children to spend quite so much money without their parents noticing.