Apple issues in-app purchase warnings to keep kids from blowing the bank

Apple issues 'offers in-app purchases' warning in iTunes listings
The Simpsons' Donut-gate prompted controversy

Rather than continue to cash back to users, Apple has attempted to make perfectly clear which apps should be kept out of the reach of children if their folks aren't savvy enough to password-protect purchases.

Just last week the iPhone-maker refunded the parents of an 8-year-old British boy who had blown £980 (US$1,493, AU$1,429) of very real cash on virtual donuts in the 'free' Simsons: Tapped Out game.

It wasn't the first time, either. Last month, the company agreed to pay out up to $100m (UK£66m, AUD$96m) in refunds to parents in the United States whose kids had also made unsanctioned in-app purchases.S

Starting today, iTunes listings for these so-called 'freemium' apps now feature an 'Offers In-App Purchases' message, which sits conveniently beneath the actual price tag.

Only iTunes-based for now

The slight page tweak, uncovered by The Guardian, is only present within the standalone iTunes client at the moment, but doesn't appear in the web-based listings or within the device-based App Store listing.

However, with the majority of apps (two-thirds, in fact) being downloaded directly to iOS devices, we expect the App Store app itself to receive the same update shortly.

Will it stop children knowingly or unknowingly capitalising on their parents' inability to manage a simple task like adding a password to their iTunes account or turning off in-app purchases completely?

Probably not, but it's a step in the right direction.

Chris Smith

A technology journalist, writer and videographer of many magazines and websites including T3, Gadget Magazine and He specializes in applications for smartphones, tablets and handheld devices, with bylines also at The Guardian, WIRED, Trusted Reviews and Wareable. Chris is also the podcast host for The Liverpool Way. As well as tech and football, Chris is a pop-punk fan and enjoys the art of wrasslin'.