Preventing Massive Bills From In-App Purchases Is Easy

You’ve heard the stories about how some kid racked up a heavy iTunes bill their parents can’t foot from buying the premium goods in the many “freemium” games in the App Store today. Preventing all of that is actually quite easy. But hold up. This is not to say all In-App Purchases (IAP) are bad. IAP can be the life force of an app, a developer’s rice bowl. It can make an app more interesting and give you an edge ahead of the Game Center competition, or offer up some locked features that makes an app worthwhile. There are three levels of in-app security I can introduce to the uninitiated in this article. Restrictions, Guided Access and the last, more harsh initiative I’ll lay down at the end of the page. Restrictions hiding unnoticed to many iOS users is the Restrictions settings panel (Settings > General > Restrictions). Restrictions basically disallows certain activities you wouldn’t want your young ones, or anyone else for that matter, accessing on your phone with or without your knowledge. Once activated, the Restrictions screen is locked out with a password. rgb_preventIAP01 rgb_preventIAP03 There are several toggles that will activate or deactivate certain iOS apps, such as FaceTime, Safari or the App Store. There is also a toggle for In-App Purchases. Turning this switch off will prevent anyone from spending your precious money on a gold-plated house for a virtual pet, thereby nipping the problem in the bud. Guided Access This one is a little step up from Restrictions. Guided Access was introduced in iOS 6 so, for example, educators can hand students an iPad without them fiddling around with anything else that is not part of the curriculum. rgb_preventIAP02rgb_preventIAP04 When used on a more personal level, it locks down the ability to use the Home button to access the Home screen using a password so you can hand your iPad to your niece for a round of Angry Birds without her “exploring” what else your device has to offer. When turned on under the Accessibility settings panel (Settings > General > Accessibility), the feature can be activated with a triple-click of the Home Button and tapping on “Guided Access”. Having Restrictions on with Guided Access should put you very much at ease already, but there are more totalitarian controls with Guided Access, allowing you to block certain parts of the screen, turn off the accelerometer or locking the entire touch screen altogether (so you can distract the kids with a long movie). Just Don’t Naturally, the prevention is always better than handing your iOS device over to the grubby hands of a youngster. So you could always go paranoid like me and let no one else hold your device, unless someone gives you the Bambi eyes. And I have to state the obvious in that it is imperative you do not hand your iTunes Store password to anyone. Unless, you really don’t mind having a nice fat bill in your inbox. So there you have it. These are the simple ways to prevent App Store mishaps on your devices, just don’t forget the four-number PIN yourself. Hit the links for more information about Restrictions and Guided Access on iOS devices.