It goes without saying that people love free apps and games, but controversy continues to gather over the use of the word ‘free’ to describe an app that is free to download, but which requires in-app purchases in order to get the most out of it. Many are concerned in particular over numerous high-profile incidents in which device owners – or, more often, their children – have inadvertently spent thousands of dollars on in-app content.
The European Commission has taken a particular interest in this, and has been pressuring app store owners to more clearly signpost the implications of ‘free’ content, and to stop using the word ‘free’ to describe apps and games that push in-app purchases. Earlier this year, for example, Google made changes in its Play Store to remove the word ‘free’ from ‘Top Free Apps’ and ‘Top Free Games’.
Apple indicated that it would also make changes to its store and, as TechCrunch reports, the company has now done so. The label used on the download button for such apps in the App Store – which previously said ‘Free’ – has now been changed to read ‘Get’. As before, in-app purchases are also clearly indicated where applicable.
All apps which do not require an upfront payment are now labelled with the new ‘Get’ download button, regardless of whether or not they offer in-app purchases. The change applies both to the iOS and Mac App Stores, and has been made worldwide – not just within the European Union.