Google Play Store Adds Password Feature to Every In-App Purchase

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Android phone users, particularly parents, do not need to fear unauthorized in-app purchases anymore as a new security feature by Google Play Store would require a user to enter a password every time before making any in-app purchases.

The decision to introduce frequent password prompts is a likely reaction to a recent case where a New York mother sued Google on March 14 for violation of consumer protection laws and tempting children to purchase apps and games, when her five-year-old son spend almost $70 on virtual currency for the game Marvel Run Jump Smash.

The mother had claimed that many games that feature in-app purchases are highly addictive and are designed in a manner to lure children to purchase game currency to meet the game objectives.

According to the new changes that Google has made, the earlier 30-minute window that users had to download without the need of entering the password again has been disabled and now every purchase would require a password.

Google Play Store 4.6.16 would also highlight the titles of all in-app purchases made. The updated version also features an updated User Interface and forced self-update. It would also be easier to reach the settings and help menus now as the earlier Auto-Add Widget function has been renamed to Add Icon to Home Screen.

Google Play was also quick to react following the legal action as this might not have been a one time case, as Apple already knows too well. In January, Apple was asked to pay back parents a total sum of $32.5 million for in-app purchases that children made without the knowledge of parents. The period under which Apple had to cover the cost of unauthorized in-app purchases of kids was from March 2011.

Earlier, both Apple and Google have also had to appear in front of the European Commission to discuss the implications of freemium games and in-app purchases.

Based on the concerns of unauthorized in-app purchases, Google had come back with a comment that “We always appreciate feedback and are currently working on new features that give our customers even more information and control over their Google Play purchases.”

Well, the new features are here now. To set up protection for purchases on the Google Play Store app, follow the instructions mentioned below:

1. Open the Google Play Store app.

2. Touch Menu > Settings.

3. Under User controls, check the box Checkbox next to Password – Use password to restrict purchases.

4. Enter your password when prompted.

The feedback from Google Play users is very positive. A short survey of nearly 20 Google Play users over the phone and email showed that many are happy with this new update.

Katherine Samuel, 19, said that she was happy with this new feature because it protected her phone from being misused by friends.

“I love playing games on the phone and I have far more games downloaded than any of my friends. So my friends often use my phone to play games when they do not have it on their phone. Sometimes after I downloaded something, they would download game money and tell me later about it. I never asked them to pay. I mean we are friends, right? But now I feel I will have more control!”

Brian Ahmed, 27, said that he was happy with the new feature because he had himself downloaded virtual currency “in the heat of the moment when playing a game.” In an email, he said, “Breaking the momentum to think about the password, type it in and then make a purchase may stop me from making too many purchases. Lol.”

And of course, parents are delighted with the requirement of Google Play store to enter the password every time an in-app purchase is made. Many said that they had suffered with at least one unauthorized purchase incidence, even if just a dollar worth of expenditure. The new Google Play store requirement would make them more worry-free now when handing their phones over to their children.

By Faryal Najeeb

Katherine Samuel, phone interview
Brian Ahmed, email interview
Short survey of parents over phone and email
DNA India

2 Responses to "Google Play Store Adds Password Feature to Every In-App Purchase"

  1. Faiq   March 16, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Very informative!

  2. Fayez Najeeb   March 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    This was a feature really needed. As Google Play did have PW protection when buying an app but there was no restrictions to control the app purchases being done. Heads UP for Android !

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