The Washington Post is reporting that Apple has changed its policy on in-app purchases on iOS devices to protect users from accidentally toting up huge iTunes charges.
iOS 4.3 has a feature that requires a password when any purchases are made within an application after it has been downloaded. This is in response to situations where children were sometimes purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of in-app purchases within 15 minutes after an app was first downloaded. Two games in particular were responsible for numerous occurrences of big purchases by kids -- Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo.
Now that iOS 4.3 is making its way to many iOS devices, a password is not only required to purchase an app on the App Store, but the password will also be required when you make an in-app purchase. By doing this, the user is made aware of the iTunes charges being made by having to enter their password. Once you've made one in-app purchase and entered your password, you can make other recurring charges within 15 minutes without reentering the password. That makes it possible to quickly make multiple charges without having to reenter your password for every charge.
The changes were added to iOS 4.3 as a response to numerous complaints from parents who were upset that their kids were buying "snowflakes" and "Smurfberries" at $99 a barrel without realizing that their parents were being charged actual money for those purchases. These complaints were beginning to surface in the Attorney General's office in a number of states, forcing Apple to look into the issue and respond. It will also help if developers take some responsibility and take the temptation to purchase expensive "virtual products" away from children.