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Google Play lists in-app purchase price ranges

01 October 2014, Jo Prowse, Acting Chief Executive
Google Play lists in-app purchase price ranges

Eagle-eyed Android users and devoted tech-pages readers may have noticed something different about the Google Play store this week – from now on people will be shown the price ranges for in-app purchases before they download a game or an app from the store.

It sounds simple, but it could make a big difference for parents. We all know how hard it is to keep track of what children are up to on their smartphones, and in the last couple of years there have been stories of children running up big bills with in-app payments.

So, if this change to the Google Play store makes prices clearer it can only be good news.

Here at PhonepayPlus, we’ve a special interest in app stores. We often get calls from parents who want advice about their children’s smartphones and we are responsible for regulating app store and in-app payments that are charged to a phone bill (currently Google Play and Windows Phone Store).

There’s a careful balance to strike between supporting digital innovation and protecting consumers. On the one hand we take a flexible, proportionate approach by working with the premium rate services industry and market places like Windows Phone Store that use operator billing. And on the other we run consumer education programmes for children running up big bills to help people avoid getting into difficulty and assist them when they do.

Our Annual Report explains this in lots more detail. Take a look at our work to encourage market innovation on p.16 and the partnerships we’ve formed with other regulators, internet companies and charities on p.18 for more information.

We also run PhoneBrain, a schools campaign and one-stop online shop to give parents and children the facts about things they can pay for by phone – like apps, digital content and TV voting – and what to watch out for online and in apps.

Technology is changing fast, and like the industry we regulate, PhonepayPlus is considering the opportunities and the challenges it poses to ensure we keep pace with developments. Sharing ideas and gathering new information is key, so if you’re a member of the PRS industry and want to talk about app payments in more detail or if you’ve got a smartphone user and want to share your experience, do leave a comment below.

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