New Rules on Kids iOS Apps

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Old 31-Aug-2013
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Wink New Rules on Kids iOS Apps

Apple is ready to introduce a Kids category in its iOS 7 and is laying down new rules for app developers. The new guidelines set out Apple’s policy on privacy, advertising and use of in-app purchases aimed at kids under 13.

The move comes after news stories about kids racking up enormous bills purchasing virtual items in mobile games without parents’ knowledge. The new rules are published ahead of the publication this autumn of a report on kids’ apps.

The key points of the new rules say that apps primarily intended for kids under 13 must include a privacy policy, may not include behavioral advertising or any contextual ads, and must get parental permission or use a parental gate before linking out of the app or engaging in commerce.

Actually, new laws weren’t a big surprise for the app developers, because many of them have added privacy policies and implemented parental gates in their applications recently, in response to private feedback from the tech giant.

However, Apple didn’t set guidelines on how kids’ app developers may use analytics instruments to collect data on what their audience is doing, while developers in many other countries are governed by existing legislation in this area. The new rules also explain how the new Kids category on the App Store will be structured, with the three age buckets: kids ages 5 and under, ages 6-8, or ages 9-11. This innovation was officially announced at Apple’s WWDC conference earlier this summer, and will be introduced on Apple’s store as part of its new iOS 7 software in a few weeks.

The new structure will allow parents to find applications previously scattered between the Books, Education, Games and Entertainment sections. The company is now recruiting an App Store Kids & Education Editor based in its London office to help with the introduction of the new category.

The kids’ apps market is currently bustling with activity, from major brand-owners including Disney, the BBC and Nickelodeon to indie companies like Toca Boca and Nosy Crow. The latest report from British telecoms regulator Ofcom revealed that over 90% of parents who own a tablet admit that their kids either use it or have one of their own. 40% of them also say that their kids use the gadget every day.

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