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Springy Dock Tricks

If you drag a file and hover over Dock icons, various useful things happen which are similar to Finder springing. If it's a window, the window un-minimizes from the Dock. If it's a stack, the corresponding folder in the Finder opens. If it's the Finder, it brings the Finder to the foreground and opens a window if one doesn't exist already. But the coolest (and most hidden) springing trick is if you hover over an application and press the Space bar, the application comes to the foreground. This is great for things like grabbing a file from somewhere to drop into a Mail composition window that's otherwise hidden. Grab the file you want, hover over the Mail icon, press the Space bar, and Mail comes to the front for you to drop the file into the compose window. Be sure that Spring-Loaded Folders and Windows is enabled in the Finder Preferences window.

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iOS 4.3 Now Prevents Inadvertent In-App Purchases

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The controversy started last year, when parents discovered that password-caching in the iTunes app opened the door to small children inadvertently making in-app purchases that could add up to significant money. I wrote about how designer Mike Rohde’s 7-year-old son managed to rack up an almost-$200 bill that way in “Be Aware of iTunes Password Caching” (14 July 2010), and, more recently, the Washington Post found the story of an 8-year-old who worked up a $1,400 bill.

After some months of this sort of coverage, Apple received a letter from the Washington State Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission chairman promised to look into the situation, and members of Congress criticized Apple’s approach.

Glenn Fleishman wrote about some techniques for avoiding the problem in “Avoid Unwanted App Store and In-App Purchases” (5 October 2010), but the real solution was for Apple to require passwords for in-app purchases.

With iOS 4.3, Apple has now done exactly what I recommended, adding another password prompt for in-app purchases made within the 15-minute window after entering the main iTunes account password for downloading an app.

I tested this by first downloading the free Geared app, which generated a password prompt. I confirmed that my password was still cached by immediately downloading the free Fishies app (the app with which Mike Rohde’s son had problems). I then went into Fishies and attempted to purchase a chest of pearls. That action generated first an iOS dialog confirming that I wanted to make an in-app purchase, and then it asked yet again for my password, even though I was still within the 15-minute window. (To give credit where credit is due, the Fishies app had already implemented its own internal parental controls to prevent access to purchasing aspects of the program.)


So it appears that Apple has finally closed this hole. It’s a little too bad it took so long, given that the first reports of the problem started appearing 8 months and one significant release of iOS ago. But it’s here now, and for that we can be grateful.

 

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Comments about iOS 4.3 Now Prevents Inadvertent In-App Purchases
(Comments are closed.)

Dennis B. Swaney  2011-03-15 15:00
Does entering the pw for the in-app purchase, reset the 15 minute clock?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-15 15:25
Drat, I knew someone was going to ask that. The problem I had was that I couldn't actually find an app where I wanted to purchase anything, and I just couldn't bring myself to purchase chests of pearls in Fishies.

Anyone reading this using in-app purchases for anything real? If so, the test is, can you purchase something in the app, and then, within a 15-minute window, purchase something else without entering your password again?
Dennis B. Swaney  2011-03-15 15:46
Just trying to help, Adam :)