Make your iPad and iPhone safe from In-App and unintentional purchases

Published 12th November 2015 | View or add comments

We recently got stung with a number of "in-app" purchases which one of the kids inadvertently did whilst playing a free app. Unfortunately some of these apps are very cleverly constructed and purely aimed at accidental or targeted downloads. 

With a game called wheels on the bus, and recommended from school for a 5 year old we naively thought it would be secure. Although the itunes password has to be entered for each purchase, including free downloads, I didn't realise by default it is cached for 15 minutes.

I wasn't aware of in-app purchases either, having not played any games on the ipad and sat watching the kids play a few educational games, it all looked all above board.

But then you notice a cute and cuddly teddy bear which is a link to another app, which auto downloads and you get billed for, and the big heart shaped icon is a link to a store. 

Clicking the dispute link in any Apple invoice will trigger a support call and to be fair they are very good and sent through a doc on how to lock down your devices, which seems obvious when you go into it, but I'll confess I wasn't aware 

The Apple Support Doc is here:

But here are the key steps:

Hey presto, no more accidental In-App purchases 


You can also set you password to also be required for any install or purchase, rather than the default 15 minute cache.

There is a separate Apple Support doc that details all the password options relating to your apple devices:

May sound like obvious to most, but if you have nippers and assumed being password protected was enough, then think again. Googling some of the apps sees a torrent of angry parents and negative feedback from in-app purchases. 

Other apps are more honest and give you the option of unlocking paid content and giving access to more functionality, letting a parent make the decision, rather than relying on misleading a child.

Question of ethics?

Appreciate business is business, but come on app developers, actively targeting young children by exploiting Apples default settings doesn't seem right to me. Apple are very quick to refund when it becomes obvious this is an unintentional purchase, but I would question the ethics of some of these app designers. This seems to go beyond the usual pester power marketing, parents are very familiar with.

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
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Steve.Richardson Bio
Happy father & business owner, fascinated by marketing, local search & making trader directories effective.
- Founder of the UK Business Directory and Forum;
- Founder of the USA Directory;
- Creator of the Trusted Trader platform; in partnership with Trading Standards.

Always willing to help and advise if I can, feel free to connect or get in touch.

Favourite quotes:
- The Attitude of Gratitude - Father Brian D'Arcy
Be thankful for what you have, not stressing about what you haven't.

- Production not Consumption - Daniel Priestly
Be a producer of effort, for health, wealth and family. Not sat on the sofa being a consumer.
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