5 year old’s excess in-app purchasing highlights the real issue

So how did a 5 year old rack up such an expensive bill in just 10 minutes? He purchased one bundle of 333 keys, one of 90,000 darts, and another of 333 bombs that each cost 69.99 GBP ($105 USD). A number of smaller purchases added up to the final total. [phoneArena]

I’ve got three kids and we’ve discovered this problem, though thankfully to a much lesser degree. It’s easy for someone without kids to look at this and quickly say it’s bad parenting and you should watch what they are doing more closely. I agree … but the real issue is how the password system works.

When you enter your password for a download (and particularly in iOS) the gate stays open for a period of time allowing in-game purchases or even subsequent downloads through. It’s designed to make life more simple but since there are absolutely NO kid controls or functions it’s pretty easy to fall into the rabbit hole. ┬áJust watch a kid aggressively try to clear the between level BS messaging in most “free” games ….

iOS Apps I’d Really Like to See on Android

I’ve been using an Android device for a little over a year and my mobile habits are pretty formed. I also carry an iPhone and I’d love to find app parity between platforms. In general I’m equally productive across the two, but there are a few things I’d really like to have on Android that are simply missing at the moment… Nothing critical but all nice to have at different levels.

  • Reading: Flipboard, Zite Instapaper and a client for Readability (also missing on iOS). Google Currents is solid on both platforms and Android can do some really slick “send to” things with Intents for sharing but I’m looking for more app-ified reading to keep it flowing.
  • Photos: Instagram. Picplz and Lightbox are both nice but it’s the social side of Instagram I’m missing and what’d I’m looking forward to seeing finally arrive. I should acknowledge that since taking up Path, my desire for Instagram has lessened but mainly because the Galaxy Nexus is becoming my go to device. Path has some nice free / pay filters and excellent social sharing.
  • Notifications: Boxcar for social messaging and Slice for package tracking and shipping notices. Neither are critical but both would be quite nice to have. Boxcar captures a deeper look at twitter than mentions (favorites and lists) and was supposed to have arrived by now. I’ve spent less time engaged on twitter since the arrival of Google+ which is much better on Android … Though no surprise there.

In all the list isn’t that long. The main missing piece is reading which I do a tone of as a self-confessed I formation junkie. Google Reader is great anywhere but the curated content is a great way to mix it up. Photos should evolve soon enough. I’m guessing that with a snap in Instagram, I’ll be able to “send to” anywhere much the way Android typically allow which will probably earn more of my time.

A small wishlist for the iPhone in 2010

The more I use a a variety of mobile devices I keep coming back to a few seemingly arbitrary limits of the iPhone. I’m hoping the following issues are resolved in a future release:

If I can’t have all apps multitask I would prioritize media playing apps. There is no reason why listening to audio needs to monopolize a device – ever. This is not a radio, it’s a pocket computer come on!

While on the topic of media, it also seems quite abitrary that Apple’s core app functions are not available to things like Pandora or Last.fm. Why can’t I see the album art like from the ipod when waking the screen? Why can’t the remote button on our headphones also control these 3rd party apps.

These are details but severly limit how the iphone works.

One final nit I have is regarding voice control. I’d like to know what genius thought it should just be on all the time with headphones?! As a result my music is constantly interrupted by the iphone’s expectation of a voice command. This only seems to happen with the standard headphones but happens both indoors as well as out.