In-app purchases, we all hate them. For the most part. They aren’t so bad some of the time as long as they don’t run rampant and become a requirement to move past a certain point in a game. As consumers IAP’s are something that we will probably just have to deal with for quite a long time but when you’re the company behind the app store where these IAP’s can be made, they serve a different purpose. In-app purchases have been something of a concern for parents who use both Google’s Android powered devices and parents who have devices that run iOS. Both companies have been in the limelight this year over kids who have racked up in-app purchase amounts worth a hefty sum, with parents blaming both Google and Apple for the issue.
Back at the beginning of the year Apple had made an agreement with the FTC over the IAP policy that they had set in place which ultimately led them to settle a lawsuit set forth by parents effected by the way the policy worked, which gave users a 15 minute window to make purchases after a password had been entered. The settlement cost Apple a total of $32.5 million which is no small sum, merely over kids misusing of in-app purchase products made while playing games. While parents should have been and should be moving forward, more aware of what their kids are doing on their smartphones or tablets, that’s not to say that app store and play store policies didn’t need a slight change.
Apple is now apparently trying to convince the FTC to go after Google over the same exact issue, which could possibly result in the search giant having to pay out a settlement fee over parents who’s kids spent money on IAP’s. Up until somewhat recently this year, the Play Store had a 30 minute window where any IAP’s could be made without having to enter a password, even if you had that setting turned on. The issue would only pop up however if you had previously entered the password for a purchase prior to that 30 minute window opening up, and after the half hour passed the password would be required again. Google was met with much resistance over this particular detail and eventually changed it so that you can make any purchases require the password to be entered. There’s also the option of blocking your child’s access to the Play Store altogether by only giving them access to a restricted account. Whether or not these changes will have any effect on the FTC’s decision to pursue a similar settlement with Google to what Apple had faced earlier this year is uncertain. Currently Amazon is in the FTC’s cross-hairs over this matter but they aren’t afraid to fight this in court. With Amazon willing to to battle off any sort of FTC restrictions Google has the potential to do the same, although that all depends on if the FTC pursues the issue with Google to begin with.