Apple adds age rating tags to App Store descriptions
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has introduced age-rating notification boxes below each iOS application's developer credits, a move that could assuage consumers and watchdog groups calling for greater transparency around the App Store shopping experience.
WhatsApp and other apps now feature an age rating such as 4+.
iPhone and iPad users will now see the application's age rating prominently featured on its download screen, immediately below the app's name and developer designation and just above its App Store user rating. The scale itself has not changed, but these new boxes simply make the ratings more prominent and transparent.
The Next Web points out that the age-rating box is not present among details included in App Store download rankings or in search results.
The new rating tags also follow roughly a month after Apple agreed to pay out more than $100 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by parents whose children purchased virtual goods and enhancements sold inside iPhone and iPad apps without permission. The suit, filed in 2011 on behalf of "other parents and guardians who permitted their minor children to download a free application and then incurred charges for game-related voidable purchases that the minor was induced by Apple to make," contended that iOS games like Bakery Story, Tap Zoo and Sundae Maker generated millions of dollars by selling "Game Currency" to children.
Calling the freemium model "unlawful exploitation in the extreme," the suit stated "These games are highly addictive, designed deliberately so, and tend to compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of Game Currency, amounting to as much as $100 per purchase or more." The settlement prompted Apple to add a line of text to freemium download pages, alerting users when an iOS title supports in-app purchases.
Apple also came under fire following reports that photo and video sharing applications including Twitter's Vine and 500px contained sexually explicit content. Those apps and others including Tumblr were eventually updated to classifications of 17+, the App Store's highest age rating.
In 2011, when CTIA-The Wireless Association and the Entertainment Software Rating Board unveiled the CTIA Mobile Application Rating System, both Apple and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) declined to participate in the program, opting for their own existing app store submission and rating processes. Google Play has its own rating scale, but instead of numeric ratings the scale ranges from "Everyone" to "High Maturity."
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