Apple makes it rain $5 gift cards to settle IAP lawsuit

So, you may have recently received an email from Apple about the settlement of a class action lawsuit about in-app purchases. If you have kids, or you have ever let kids touch your i-devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod), you've probably experienced one of two scenarios:

  1. A child has purchased something via an in-app purchase (IAP) without your consent, causing a confusing rage or blame hunt, and subsequent locking of IAPs on your device.

  2. A friend has told you about how their kid did the above, and you breathed a sigh of relief, gloated about how you are a better parent or smarter person, and subsequently locked IAPs on your device.

Before you beat yourself up, or pat yourself on the back too much, hold up. It wasn't so long ago when smartphones didn't even exist - and now we have to deal with App Stores, cloud backup, and yeah... IAPs. I for one believe that i-devices are awesome and engaging way to entertain kids in small doses. Face it, they will live in a world where everyone has had smartphones their entire lives. Touch interactions will be simply expected... streaming content only natural. I don't think eliminating their access to such things is realistic. That said, if you let kids play with an i-device... LOCK IAPs, LOCK THEM NOW!

Now that we've got that out of the way, I'll mention that as a parent and someone who is around small kids all the time, I've felt that the Apple policy for passwords and IAPs is very cruel to the non-techy parent. Apple prides itself on being accessible and easy to use. They have a "Genius Bar" for heavens sake. So why when a parent downloads a free app for kids like Smurf's Village or Disney Fairies Fashion Boutique is the game unlocked for several minutes after the free download? It's simple - it is a deceptive practice that is profitable for App vendors and as result Apple as well. Kids are easy to prey on because a) there are a range of reactions on who is to blame when the due purchase things via IAP b) to kids, IAP can be considered a mini game for at least a few minutes, plenty of time to rack up quite a bill.

Well, hopefully this settlement will cause Apple to listen to common sense solutions. They've already released a guide with further education on the subject, so that's a step in the right direction. I actually like them a lot as a company, and I hope they'll figure out a better policy for all.