Apple has responded to pressure from parent groups, legislators and growing reports of juniors running up large bills by changing the rules on how certain content is shown or accessed in apps aimed at children.
Power to the Parent
If you have children, then there's a common theme among many apps you may have downloaded to entertain them on any device. Even relatively simple color-in apps are loaded with adverts for other apps, pester-power bait in-app purchases and so on. Many simple games, never mind the well-known titles from big media companies, are also loaded with tempting extras to get parents paying.
That's assuming they've set up their devices correctly, and the children aren't accessing this stuff on their own, running up bills or accessing content that may lead them to less desirable apps or websites. All are features of the evolving mobile ecosystem as platform owners migrate toward a family friendly system.
As the groundswell of opinion moves against this manipulation of our young, and to comply with Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) legislation, Apple has altered its developer terms and conditions to ensure that such things are better managed in future.
iOS 7 for the Young
With iOS 7 allowing under-13s to have their own account, apps targeting them will not be allowed to use behavioral advertising and must ask for parental permission before allowing them to visit links outside of the app or engage in any commercial activity.
Similarly, apps won't be allowed to share data about children or link them to chat or or other social features where they could be a target for attempted abuse. Bolt on age filters at the front of these apps, and it looks like Apple will be covered, legally speaking, and children shouldn't be responsible for so much tech trouble.
Quite how long existing apps have to comply with these new rules remains to be seen, but with Apple's big show just weeks away, we're sure the company would like to have a that family-friendly box ticked by the time Tim Cook gets on-stage. If they aren't already, expect the Android and Windows ecosystems to follow suit pretty soon.
For those hoping for multiple accounts, it looks like Apple is lagging behind on the feature for iOS 7, with them already up and running on Android 4.3 on Nexus and other devices. Will Apple pull that rabbit out of the hat? We'll know soon enough.
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