Earlier today, Apple signed an agreement to refund over $30 million to parents who's children spent unsupervised in the App Store. The parents were unaware that once the password was entered, kids could shop as they pleased for 15 minutes. Of course, this raises concerns about the Play Store. Can the same thing happen on Android? Yes. Actually, it’s potentially worse.
Via the Play Store, unsupervised kids could spend frivolously for up to 30 minutes, doubling the App Store time limit. Consumer Reports went ‘undercover’ so to speak, by posing as a child on the Play Store. They purchased a game geared towards kids, then made several in-app purchases after they started playing.
To keep it on an even keel, they purchased the same game that made headlines in the Apple suit. A parent claimed their child racked up about $2,600 playing Tap Pet Hotel, which was one of the more sensational stories of the suit. Consumer Reports claims to have the password protection feature enabled, too.
Though several in-app purchases were made, the real kicker comes in going bak to the Play Store. The researcher was able to leave the game, and go back into the Play Store and buy another app for $2.99, all without the need for a password. All tolled, his 30 minute foray into childhood cost his adult self $9.92.
After 30 minutes, the password wall kicked back in, but not before a small fee was racked up. Though he took it easy on himself, the researcher from Consumer Reports could have easily made one or more in-app purchases of $49.99 — or even $99.99. We’ve reached out to Google for coment, and will update should we hear back.
Update: A Google spokesperson gave us the following statement:
"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"