Why this matters to you
So what’s the big deal? With the same few taps, an unsupervised child could just as easily have bought some Trove of Coins for $49.99 each, or maybe a bunch of Barrel of Treats for $99.99 apiece (shown, below) and run up a bill rivaling that of the girl whose mother had complained to the FTC.
An FTC representative declined to comment on whether the agency has received complaints about such occurrences in Google Play or whether the FTC might be investigating the store.
In its agreement with the FTC, Apple also consented to changing its billing practices, no later than March 31, so that it gets consumers’ express, informed consent before billing them for in-app charges.
Given my experience, the Google Play app should also be required to give parents explicit notice and get similar consent from parents of children who access the Google Play Store.
For now, if you supervise a youngster who uses apps downloaded from the Google Play store, exercise caution when approving any in-app, or even out-of-app, purchases. Unless you trust the child, don’t hand the device back to her until the 30 minutes expire and a password is once again required.
“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," a Google spokesperson told me in an e-mail sent on the night of Jan. 17.*