Kid proof iTunes: Apple requires password for purchases

Apple makes it harder for your kids to waste hundreds of dollars on Smurfberries.

Saddled with mounting complaints from parents that their kids were running up big iTunes bills Apple changed its app purchasing policies. Now parents, or kids using their parent's iPhone or iPad, will have to re-enter an iTunes password when making a purchase within an existing iOS application (called an in-app purchase).

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The new policy was delivered to Apple devices this week as part of a iOS 4.3 update that added several tweaks to the iOS platform. Previously, purchasing something on the App Store (and entering your iTunes account password) opened a 15-minute window, during which you (or your child) were able to make additional in-app purchases without re-entering your password.

According to The Washington Post , parents complained that, in this 15-minute period, their children had managed to rack up hundreds of dollars worth of in-app purchases on games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo. While both of these applications are free to download, their in-app purchases cost as much as $100.

Parents were alerted to this fact a while ago, when Capcom actually ended up putting a warning on its Smurfs' Village game -- a warning that said Smurfberries cost real money. Unfortunately, children who make impulse purchases on iPhones probably aren't all that good at comprehending what "real money" is, so Apple has stepped in.

"With iOS 4.3, in addition to a password being required to purchase an app on the App Store, a reentry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller told The Washington Post on Thursday.

Now users are required to enter their password twice, once to download the app and once to make a purchase. Hopefully this will make people stop and think about what they're doing (or, in children's cases, prevent them from making changes all together...you don't give your kids your iTunes password, do you?) before they start making purchases left and right.

So upgrade to iOS 4.3 today! If you can, that is -- Gizmodo notes that iOS 4.3 is only available for the last two generations of the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod Touch, so some of you will have to control your kids' purchases the old-fashioned way.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

PC World (US online)
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