It feels like complaints about in-app purchases have been rolling in ever since the feature arrived, as users found themselves (or family members with access to their devices) inadvertently racking up excessive bills. And over the years, we’ve seen the companies behind these app stores implement additional restrictions, protections, and notifications to try and mitigate user concerns. Still, regulatory agencies have been quite critical of what they see as inadequate steps to address the problem, and continue to go after app stores that they feel aren’t doing their best to rein in unwanted spending. In a new statement today, the European Commission acknowledges the progress some of these companies are making, while criticizing those that fall short.
Google, says the EU, has been making the sort of changes it wants to see, and points in particular to a shift set to occur near the end of summer that will no longer advertise free-to-download apps with in-app purchases lurking within as “free” in the Play Store.
Apple, on the other hand, has been slower to commit to change, and while it has proposed ways it might address the EU’s concerns, has neither agreed to take specific steps nor set up a firm timeline for when action might happen.
As for Google, we’re quite curious to see what form these changes might take. How would these apps now be listed if not “free?” Will we see the addition of new tracking categories: no longer just “top paid” and “top free,” but “top freemium?” Or would the presence of “free” within “freemium” continue to mislead under this EU directive? We should find out in just a couple months.