Google Play Store lets your kid spend like a drunken sailor

That’s quite a headline from Consumer Reports. And the FTC goes after Apple.



  • DanPierce

    I guess this would be a problem if anyone actually spent money in the Google Play Store…

    • matthewmaurice

      Exactly.

  • Guest

    I guess this would be a problem if anyone actually spend money in the Google Play Store…

  • Tvaddic

    People always focuses on who is in first even though everyone else is doing the same thing, McDonald’s is apparently making everyone fat, even though Burger King has higher calorie options.

  • Moeskido

    Having Consumer Reports write about consumer tech is a tiny bit like having Henry Blodget write about ethics in the stock market.

    That said, CR’s so technically inept, they’re the perfect organization to trip on anything Google Play might toss at its non-tech customers.

  • http://boxofjack.com/ Jack

    FTC goes after Apple because that’s where people are actually spending money. “Uneasy lies the head…”

  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    I wrote about this 2 years ago (http://johncblandii.com/2011/08/android-needs-parental-control-an-in-app-purchase-story.html; read the comments) but things have changed since then.

    1 – Passwords are on every purchase, if you toggle that setting on, including in-app. 2 – The 15 minute purchase window allows immediate cancellation/removal BUT you must be monitoring your email to know someone spent on your account.

    Areas where issues still arise: 1 – The purchase window is not on in-app. That’s 100% at the developers discretion and I have had semi-success from that. My nephew hit me with ~$300 this summer and the developer refunded all but $49. I considered it a penance for not putting a password on it. 2 – The author is correct with the window of time. The refund window is still there for app purchases though. I tested and confirmed his approach.

    It isn’t as big an issue on Android tablets though: create a child profile. It’s that easy. Create the profile and lock it down so purchases are not allowed. You can add apps to the profiles available apps with ease.

    Now, notice I said ‘on tablets’. For whatever reason, Google has not enabled it on phones; maybe due to phone numbers across profiles but either way it is still an issue on phones and they need to solve it.

  • lucascott

    Curious they don’t mention if there are restrictions like in iOS where you can set it to require a password right away, rather than in 15 minutes

    • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

      No such setting exists.

      • gjgustav

        I thought I remembered Apple issuing a software update that requires a password regardless of the window, but then my mother-in-law was bitten by this problem when she gave her iPad to my kids. (Thank goodness it was only $10, which Apple refunded within a day).

        Parental controls are the better way to do it; turn off in-app purchases there.

        • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

          On iOS it exists but there is no “require password immediately” setting on Android.

  • Gretchen

    I’ve never really been comfortable with the idea of in-app purchases; and ive never really understood why Apple allowed in-app purchases by default.

    That is not to say I don’t understand the value of in-app purchases, I’ve used them a fair few times; to upgrade the functionality of a utility, to buy the latest issue of a magazine etc.

    The facility is useful, but I think Apple may have underestimated the desire that developers have to try and either maximize their their revenues or downright abuse their customers.

    Craig Grennell wrote a piece ( http://reverttosaved.com/2013/12/16/why-angry-birds-go-is-one-of-the-most-depressing-games-ive-ever-played/ ) which sums it up pretty well.

    When the developers of games are using in-app purchases to artificially limit the progression of games, there is a problem.

    • lucascott

      IAP, when used well, actually work better than not having them.

      Want to allow folks to trial your software, make at least some level of it free and IAP unlock the full version. Great for games that use the free with ads v paid with no ads twist on it.

      Magazines are another good use of IAP.

      It’s games that basically force you to use those IAP to play or apps that have crazy high fees that ruin it.