Not strictly speaking for other countries, but at least in the European Union, apps that exist with in-app purchases (mandatory) will no longer be specified as free apps. The future is near when America will also gear towards such decision.
Soon, you will not find apps with in-app purchases as a free app. Instead, an app will be described as free, if and only if in-app purchases are optional part of them.
Free apps with in-app purchases can lead to extortion of kids who are not of the age – enough to make such purchases. As a result, problem occurs for the parents receiving hefty bills from accidental in-app purchases by their kids. In fact, iTunes App store, Google Play Store and Amazon, all are receiving thousands of complaints by parents for their kids – making in-app purchases unknowingly. European Union wants Google and Apple to change the tag of free apps (with in-app purchases) so that consumers can differentiate between the two.
EU is also thinking of strengthening the restrictions by making calls for transparent payment agreements and complete contact information. With these restrictions, kids become unable to make any purchases through the app without parental assent.
Response from Google and Apple for this Matter
Mobile app development companies are afraid to call their apps anything else than “free apps” as most of users refuse to adopt apps without a label of being “free”. They are hesitant that if they remove the word “free”, their apps will remain undiscovered. They think like if no one is making in-app purchases, at least users are downloading their app (far better than zero downloads).
Apple stated that they have already placed “extremely easy to use” parental controls. Even last year they announced that each and every in-app purchases will be taken into consideration clearly. They also have created a kid’s section on the iTunes store with stronger protections, covering app designs for children less than 13 years of age.
With new iOS 8, Apple will release a new family sharing feature named “Ask to Buy” which ask for authorization from parents on a device (other than the one used for in-app purchases) before the app starts get download. Additionally, Apple will contact the owner via email, whenever unauthorized in-app purchases arise.
With such steps, it seems that Apple is not interested in re-labelling the app name, indicating that it’s not free.
On the other hand, Google claims that by the end of September 2014, they will re-label the games with in-app purchases, making them indicate that they are not free.
Despite of the fact that Apple forced to give 32.5 million to parents whose children made in-app purchases unknowingly, it is not ready to claim any kind of timeline like Google. This may result in legal action by the EU, if Apple fails to do enough.
EU is forcing Apple and Google to remove the tag “free” from apps – contains in-app purchases. Apple is refusing to do so as if free tag will be removed, the apps will remain undiscovered, even after having great functions for users. However, Apple is trying to build strong restrictions to fight against unwanted in-app purchases. On the other hand, Google is ready to implement such rule and claiming to re-label the apps by the end of September 2014. Let’s see, which necessary steps will Google and Apple take in favor of such rule.
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