No more ‘Free’ apps on the App Store, but you can still ‘Get’ them

No more ‘Free’ apps on the App Store, but you can still ‘Get’ themThe Google Play Store recently bowed to pressure from angry customers and the European Commission over the use of the word ‘Free’ in relation to gratis apps that offer – or sometimes demand – in-app purchases in order to unlock content, or perhaps to progress in a game. "Freemium" apps, for short.

In a similar move, App Store apps that are free to download are no longer listed as ‘Free’, with the button now labelled ‘Get’.

The change takes place with immediate effect, and there’s no need to update your iPhone or iPad. Just head over to the App Store and tap on something that doesn’t have a price, like King.com's Candy Crush Soda Saga, and you'll be invited to 'Get' it.

Previously, apps that were free to download were listed as 'Free', but with the warning (where appropriate): Offers In-App Purchases. That warning still applies when you 'Get' apps with IAPs.

Back in July, the European Commission said it was “regrettable” that Apple hadn’t put anything concrete in motion, though the Californians did vaguely promise to follow Google’s example. Four months later, here we are.

To reiterate, here’s how the European Commission sees things:

  • Games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;
  • Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them;
  • Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent;
  • Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

It remains to be seen if the new measures are enough to placate the European Commission, but things are definitely - for our money (pun intended) - a lot clearer.

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2 comments

TJ Skywasher  Nov. 20, 2014 at 12:13

Horrible, but then maybe that's because I don't like the word get. I should think that society has gotten the hang of what a free app means and what an in-app purchase is and how to stop kids buying things unnecessarily. If kids have been allowed to rack up huge bills through in-app purchases then it's your own fault for being so stupid. Change it back to free and let's move on with this whole free/in-app purchase business.

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 20, 2014 at 18:44

TJ,
I mostly agree.
I have actually no problem with in-app purchases, BUT... But: when apps offer pretty much zilch without an additional purchase? Then don't call it "Free". Also: Do NOT show features in the description that are not available without additional purchases.

It has gone way too far. I know some apps that used to be 2.99 or 4.99. Now, they are listed as free. If you add up IAPs, you end up paying way over 10 bucks... If you do not buy, you get about 5% of what the app used to be.

No good. And the EU won't help.

As to kids: don't treat your kids like the neighbour's car alarm that you either ignore or throw a phone against... Don't give them a device you yourself do not fully understand. Or pay the bill.
If you wanna have mindless fun for your kids, let them play with a microwave oven or some cigarettes ;)

There, sorry. :) Tablets and smartphones can be great learning tools for children. But let them learn to learn first. There is no reason for a being that doesn't understand the concept of paying up to use a connected smart device. There is NOT!

[this is not Mobot's official 'opinion'... just grumpy old me)

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