iOS 8 will include Ask to Buy feature, Apple confirms

App icons coming out of a phone

Apps with in-app purchases will no longer be called free by Google and Apple will be adding an 'Ask to Buy' option in iOS 8 to prevent mistakes and children downloading thousands of pounds worth of extras.

The EU asked both companies to re-think how they advertise apps with in-app purchases after the commission received complaints about children downloading limitless upgrades and extra features for games.

Companies should make customers aware before purchasing the app or game that it includes the option of buying features from inside the app, the EU said.

Google has said it will stop calling apps with such additions as 'free' and will come up with guidelines to stop children being encouraged to buy the added extras.

After reports that Apple hadn't revealed how it would tackle the issue, it released a statement saying it would introduce the Ask to Buy feature in iOS 8 that would presumably ask for permission before allowing users to download an in-app purchase.

When the company launched iOS 7.1, it was asked by the US regulatory authority, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to add in warnings about in-app purchases and has not integrated other parental controls into its platform.

"Over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We've also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13," Apple said in its statement.

"These controls go far beyond the features of others in the industry. But we are always working to strengthen the protections we have in place, and we're adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.

"Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.