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iOS 4.3 adds password check for in-app purchases

Apple’s iOS 4.3 update brought a host of changes in preparation for today’s release of the iPad 2, but one of the new features is instead geared towards stemming off a public relations disaster before it occurs. All in-app purchases will now require the user to enter in the device’s system password, a requirement previously confined simply to App Store shopping.

The news comes from Gigaom, which also reports that the 15-minute grace period is also finished. Previously, any purchases requiring a password entry would be followed by a 15-minute window during which additional shopping could be done without entering in the system password again.
This is no longer the case for in-app purchases; a password will be required every time.

The policy change is motivated by the rising number of children who own or have access to an iOS device of some kind. Before iOS 4.3, it was possible for a person to unknowingly make purchases with a few finger taps, both during the now-removed 15-minute grace period and inside of apps. There are parental controls which allow restrictions to be placed on in-app purchases, but not every user is aware of their existence or how they work.

The new password requirement adds in another layer of safeguards, one which Apple hopes will satisfy both parents and government watchdogs who have taken issue with the how easy it is with an iOS device to inadvertently spend money on digital goods.