Apple Relabels Its 'Free' Apps to Satisfy Regulators
After almost a year, Apple has given European regulators the changes and concessions they demanded to protect consumers against unauthorized online app purchases.Apple has stopped tagging apps as "free" in its app store to comply with requests from European regulators, who have been actively fighting labels on apps that say they are free but ultimately can involve in-app purchases. Apple has relabeled the formerly "free" apps with a new label that says "get," which still allows consumers to download them but clarifies that they are not necessarily free for all functions and options, according to a Nov. 20 report by The Christian Science Monitor. "The [European Commission] says that the 'free' labeling misleads consumers, since small transactions for power-ups and add-ons can quickly pile up," the article said. "The EC is trying to get app sellers to stop inadvertent in-app purchases." The controversy began in February when the European Commission (EC) began looking into the way that apps were labeled online after receiving many complaints from consumers about being billed for charges even though specific apps were free to download, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Apple and Google had meetings with the EC to discuss the issue and Google made changes earlier this summer in its approach to apps distribution in its online Google Play Store.
The EC had told Apple and Google that labeling apps as free and then charging consumers to use extra features was problematic. Customers were often not fully aware that they were spending money because their credit cards were charged by default, even though the apps had been labeled as free. The EC said earlier that it had received complaints on the matter from all over Europe. The problem typically involved children who downloaded and played games and then used extra features without knowing that there would be charges to get them.