Have kids who use an iPad or iPhone? 4 Easy Steps to Disable In-App Purchases

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If you use an iOS apple device and have kids (or know kids) who use these devices such as an iPhone or iPad this post may be of interest to you.

THE TRUTH ABOUT IN-APP PURCHASES

A quick browse of the Apple App Store presents us with hundreds of so-called “free” apps and games for download but many allow in-app purchases.  Commonly these apps/games are referred to as Pay2Play games.  Essentially this means if you want more features or to unlock features you have to pay for it.

What about the In-App Purchases?   An in-app purchase is any purchase you can make using real money (from your bank account or credit card).  These purchase links are commonly found within the app menu or even hidden within other areas of the game.  Once the user touches the button or link a purchase is made allowing full access or more access to the game or app you have downloaded to your device.   Often times touching on one of these links inside the game allows the removal of ads (supposing the game or app was free).   Sometimes the in-app purchase will allow the user to purchase coins or the unlocking of various features of the game or app faster than in “free” mode.

FAKE MONEY OR REAL?

One big complaint I have found with In-App Purchases is that they can be hidden within the free content.  Sometimes a “free” game will use coins or fake money within the game but real money can be used to “buy” or purchase more fake money.   This is where it can be tricky to see the difference and it’s by design of course.   For example, you may find your child (or yourself) playing a game and see areas to level up or unlock a character or feature of the game which looks to be part of the free game.  But it’s not!  All it takes is one accidental touch on the button link and you have made a purchase of $1.99, $5, $50 or more!   Depending on the age of your kids they could have difficulty knowing when a real money purchase is being made or if pretend/fake money is being used as part of the game or app.  As a parent I have even done this myself and thankfully In-App Purchases was disabled.

 

 

DISABLE IN-APP PURCHASES – 4 EASY STEPS TO AVOID THE ACCIDENTAL PURCHASE

This how you can disable in-app purchases for your portable iOS device if you haven’t already.

 

  1. Touch SETTINGS on your iPhone or iPad.

  2. Touch GENERAL.

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    GENERAL highlighted on iPad
  3. Scroll down to RESTRICTIONS.   You will need to type your pin number to enter the restrictions menu (or you will be prompted to enter a pin if you haven’t accessed it before.)

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    Enter pin number to access RESTRICTIONS on iPad/iPhone
  4. Once inside RESTRICTIONS scroll down to In-App Purchases.  Make sure the “switch” to the right is switched to off (not showing green).

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In-App Purchases disabled on iPad
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In-App Purchases disabled (not showing green) on iPhone
 

That’s all there is to it!  You should now be able to touch anywhere within a game or app containing In-App Purchasing options and will not accidentally pay for something you are not intending to.  (Note: Should you accidently touched one these purchasing links a pop-up note about in-app purchases being disabled will be displayed)

If this post has helped you or know someone it might help, please share!

 


Related Interest

 

Strings Attached: Revisiting Windows 10 Store and In-App Purchasing

Windows 10 Store, In-App Purchases: A Dream Gone Bad

 

 

 

 

Image source: Images are my own

Strings Attached: Revisiting Windows 10 Store and In-App Purchasing

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After a $240 mishap with in-app purchasing in the store located in Windows 10 (also in Windows 8.1)  I have been doing a little research into the monster that I believe is in-app purchasing.

It use to be many years ago (ok maybe only a few) that one could go to a favorite store in town to purchase a complete game for a computer for around $40-$50, take it home and have fun with it, end of story.    Today we find gaming is changing in many ways.  Not only are younger and younger kids getting involved, it is becoming easier and easier to access them.   When we talk about in-app purchasing, it basically means that within the app store there are purchases to be had within games and apps themselves.  Usually these games are free or are available up front for very low-cost.   However, these games and apps come with what I call, “strings attached”  and allow the game or app to be unlocked a little bit by little bit for a small charge (usually $2-$4 and sometimes even $$50-$99 and more).   Perhaps two dollars doesn’t seem like much for a game but like I said there are strings attached.  What can happen is, that in order to advance within the game one must put forward the $2 and to advance to another level or unlock more features another $2 must be charged and so on.  Now imagine if a person did this for more than one game or app.  It can add up, especially if the purchase is $100 and more than once.  Now imagine if your kids or grand-kids had their own computer or tablet complete with Windows 10 and did this purchasing for you–over and over without you aware of it.    Let me hope you are aware of the potential for this to occur (even for adults) so it doesn’t happen.  But if you do know what your kids are doing, even then it is sometimes difficult to detect what is or isn’t a in-app purchase until after it has been authorized.   This where I think it would be nice to be able to disable them completely with ease.

Now, on an iPad or iPhone it is quite simple to control in-app purchasing.  It’s simply a matter of enabling or disabling in-app purchasing restrictions.  Yes Apple, and most smart phones have a toggle switch to do this.   So why does it appear this feature is missing on a Windows computer?  The short answer is, I don’t really know but it’s hard not to think money or a deal with the app developers may be involved.  Or perhaps it’s just a giant oversight that nobody has yet to discover except me.  I doubt it.   Whatever the reason, besides banning your kids from using a Windows computer (specifically Windows 10) or from using a Windows 10 tablet you may wonder how to prevent this inadvertent in-app purchasing.

The only way I know how is to completely remove a payment option from within a Microsoft account you have linked to the store.  It will be necessary to be sure payment options are removed and added whenever a purchase is desired.   Other than that it gets a bit messy because I am not sure all “free” apps can be opened without a payment option in place.  Adding and removing a credit card for every situation seems less than user-friendly.   But another question I want to address is why does appear so easy for anyone to authorize the transactions of in-app purchases in the first place?

I believe the answer to this is actually quite obvious.   First, we know in-app purchases are put in place by developers to make money but at what cost to the consumer?   In-app purchasing is a trap waiting to catch unsuspecting kids (and adults).   Their goal is to not only catch us but to catch lots of us.  Unfortunately, for we consumers it is a developer’s dream that we have allowed it this way because overall this seems to be what we want.   Therefore purchasing apps in a piece meal kinda way has become the norm for how we buy and will continue to buy apps.    Would you rather pay $50 for a program up front or play a game that says it’s free (with in-app purchases available).    In a society where people are driven to seek out instant gratification, many are choosing this way of purchasing which appears “free” until they find out later it’s not all true.

I believe Microsoft is partly to blame–at least for the time being.  I will tell you why I believe so in a minute.   Of course, free apps with in-app purchasing capabilities isn’t all bad for the consumer.    I don’t think there is really anything wrong with trying out a game or app for “free” before you buy.  It’s great for the consumer and it can only help a developer’s reputation in the long run.   That is until we discover there are “hidden” or even hefty additional charges.  When a developer hides their charges, I would consider them more devious and money hungry than helpful.  In addition to hiding in-app purchases, it seems to me to be less than honest to include in-proportionate over inflated prices for simple virtual software.  The “try before you buy” way works fine when one can be certain about additional charges and when the prices are proportionate and value matches with what you get.   Of course a kid doesn’t know what value is necessarily nor even cares about the ins and outs of game prices.  So a parent must be aware of what is going on when it comes to what their kids are doing online.

In Windows Store,  Microsoft doesn’t seem to have an option to enable or disable in-app purchases and I as mentioned already, I have found some in-app purchases are even disguised as part of the game!  This where I believe Microsoft could do a better job of protecting its customers from inadvertent in-app purchasing and mistakes.

So while I don’t necessarily like the way of the future as it pertains to pc games or app purchasing and in-app purchasing procedure, I really dislike the inability to easily enable or disable in-app purchasing from within the Windows App Store.   A simple toggle switch would go a long way in making Windows Store a safer experience for everyone who uses it.

If you have found a way to do this (without the need to connect or reconnect payment options under a Microsoft account or even set-up permissions for a separate user) please share it with me and I believe many people (including myself) will thank you.

 

 

Related interest: http://www.imore.com/problem-app-purchases-and-what-do-about-it

Windows 10 Store, In-App Purchases: A Dream Gone Bad

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Windows 10 App Store

If you are familiar with Windows 8 and now Windows 10, you may be familiar with the Windows Marketplace or Store (as it’s called in Windows 10).  Windows Store, as with other app stores ( such as Google’s Play Store or the itunes Apple App store found on smart phones, ipads and tablets) usually include within the App itself what is referred to as in-app purchases.

In-app purchases are those little nuggets of extra secret game levels you can buy and unlock from within a free game app or it’s the in-app purchases that make “unlocking” all the features of your favorite text editing app possible.   Many in-app purchases hover around the $2-$5 range which isn’t much considering the price of a mac computer these days but I digress.  Two dollars can quickly grow to $4 and even more than $4 dollars if you were to make the purchase, let’s say, over and over and over and over for example to unlock all the features of a particular game.  This in-app purchasing may be dandy and nice in a world where in-app purchases can be disabled so no harm can be done to the bank account.   But what if these little subtly hidden nuggets of App developer’s gold cannot be disabled or you learn (the hard way) the in-app purchase option (if there is one) hasn’t been disabled at all and after financial damage has been done?   For example, take that one time when your child or grandchild wants to play a game or two or three on your smart phone or ipad.   A quick disable of in-app purchases and there’s no need to worry yourself to sleep about unauthorized in-game purchases, right?  Well, sort of.

I found out a little something different is happening or could be happening within the Windows 10 App store on desktop home computers, laptop computers, your computer and my computer all across this fine planet.  Now don’t get me wrong, thus far I have enjoyed using Windows 10– all except for this one little hiccup I recently discovered in the App store.  The hiccup was partly user error (meaning my fault) but it still cost real money and about $240 of it.   And all over what, you ask?  First, it was heartache and then it became a huge headache but for what else in material value I may never exactly know because the game where the deed was done has since been uninstalled (removed).  But I did hear something about virtual shoes and $99 virtual coins or maybe the virtual shoes cost $99?

No matter, the story goes something like this.   My daughter found a dress-up doll game to play.  And as her parent I foolishly approved of her playing it and even watched as she played it for a short time.  She was having fun and all seemed to be going well.   Then I made my second mistake.  I left the room.  (The first mistake being my giving her my Windows 10 login pin number.)  A few minutes later (ok maybe 30 minutes later) I came back to check my email and I saw I had received a purchase alert from the Microsoft store for $1.99.  Then I saw another alert for $1.99, and another one for $49, another one for $99, one for $24.99 (probably the virtual shoes) and another for $49…..well you get the idea.   Now to make the matter worse was there was barely enough money in the source bank account to cover even one purchase over $30!  Can we all say, overdraft charge? Correction, overdraft charges.

Nevertheless, after a stressful evening spent trying to contact the correct Microsoft department to reverse the purchases (get a refund), I am happy to report the financial dam, I mean damage may be finally getting repaired minus the overdraft charges.   But back to my main point.  What about disabling those Windows 10 store in-app purchases?  As it turns out–as of this writing–there seems to be no direct option for disabling in-app purchases in Windows 10 App Store except to completely remove all payment options associated and connected to a Microsoft account.   Another method is to consider avoiding logging into Windows using a Microsoft account entirely, without proper parental monitoring of course.  This means never give your login pin number or password to your child.

The method of completely removing a payment option may be the best answer, until you find the need to actually make a legitimate purchase from the App Store.  Just remember that after you reconnect a payment option to make a purchase, not to forget to remove the payment option once again.   This would be especially true if you are not the only one logging into your computer or you plan on allowing your child to play games from the home computer using your Microsoft Account.

Of course a more drastic approach to keep Windows 10 in-app purchases from being executed would be to avoid giving your child or grand-kid your Windows login pin number altogether.   Under a Microsoft Account in Windows 10, without the pin they won’t even be able to login to your computer in the first place!  (Just remember a Microsoft Account is necessary to use the App Store)  Whatever you decide,  keep in mind that free games are fun but unauthorized in-app purchase fees are not and can quickly become a dream gone bad.

Related interest:  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps-and-games