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RIP 'Free' Apps: Apple Tweaks App Store to Replace 'Free' Button with 'Get' Button. Here's Why

22 November 2014, 9:07 am EST By Anu Passary Tech Times
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Apple replaces the "Free" button with the "Get" button on the Mac and iOS App Store. According to European Commission guidelines, the "Free" label can be misleading to customers as free apps may include in-app purchases.  ( Sean MacEntee )

Apple has made a slight tweak to its App Store by replacing the "Free" button with the "Get" button.

Why the change? An app may have a price requirement due to in-app purchases and the "Free" tag can be misleading, according to European Comission (EC) guidelines.

Apple has been criticized by European regulators over the shady world of in-app purchases. Apps on the iOS and Mac App Store will no longer have the "Free" label even if the apps do not have any in-app purchase option.

The EC believes that a free label might mislead a customer regarding the true cost involved with in-app purchases.

In the past, Apple had to contend with issues related to children making in-app purchases without the permission of their parents. In March 2013, an 8-year-old boy in the UK used his parent's iPad and unknowingly made in-app purchases amounting to £980. After an hour-long conversation with Apple's telephone representatives, the company agreed to refund the money to the customer.

The accidental in-app purchase by children is a growing concern, and some parents have also taken Apple to the courtroom to battle against unauthorized in-app purchases.

Since then, Apple has made in-app purchases a bit more streamilined and secure as purchasers need to input a passcode to complete a purchase.

"The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable," stated Apple in July. "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."

The EC issued guidelines for the App Store and Play Store to re-label their buttons. Google re-labeled its "Top Free App" and "Top Free Games" buttons to "Top Apps" and "Top Games." However, Google's changes to the labels were made only for customers in the European Union.

Apple agreed to make changes to its App Store, following EC guidelines, but did not reveal when. It has taken Apple a while to re-label its button, but the tweaks made are across the board in all regions of the world.

Apple revealed that it will continue to look at options to strengthen its app and in-app purchase process.

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