Apple moves age ratings atop App Store pages

App Store (age ratings, teaser)

Following a series of privacy-related kerfuffles related to Apple’s App Store, objectionable content and unauthorized or unintentional in-app purchases, the company has been gradually rolling out the enhancements designed to protect users from unwanted costs, pornography and other objectionable content. The latest tweak involves app pages viewed on iDevices.

Going forward, age ratings are displayed more prominently, right below the app’s description when browsing the App Store on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices…

The change (hat tip to Darmar) is a subtle yet important one. As you can see in the example of the Twitter for iPhone app, the 4+ age rating is now rendered at the top of the app’s App Store page, right below its name, rather than being buried at the bottom as before

App Store (age ratings, screenshot 001)

The new layout now matches up nicely with desktop iTunes, as depicted below.

App Store (age ratings, screenshot 002)

Apple prides itself with curating content to shield users from pornography, malware and other material that could tarnish its brand and potentially open door to class-action lawsuits of all kinds.

The Why iPad and Why iPhone web pages, for example, read (emphasis mine):

The more apps, music, movies, TV shows, and books you download to your iPad, the better it gets. With iPad, all that content is available from one source: Apple.

The iTunes Store is the world’s largest and most trusted entertainment store. And the App Store is home to over 300,000 iPad apps — all reviewed by Apple to guard against malware.

Other mobile platforms have a myriad of fragmented store options, resulting in availability issues, developer frustration, and security risks.

One could always argue that Apple should have long introduced these tweaks rather than react to media pressure.

Case in point: Twitter’s recently released Vine app featured porn content in the Editor’s Pick, a flaw attributed to a “human error” which prompted an immediate update which added the 17+ age rating to the software, a bump up from the previous 12+ age rating.

The otherwise awesome 500px premium photography app wasn’t that lucky.

After finding that the in-app search feature might produce some candid shots of naked men and women, Apple’s review team yanked the software from the App Store, prompting the app’s makers to appease to Apple by tweaking the feature in order to ensure that users wouldn’t be unwillingly exposed to objectionable content.

Similarly, Apple has added in-app purchase warnings to freemium apps after parents complained their children ratcheted up monster iTunes bills without even realizing they were buying additional features through in-app purchases.

Prior to iOS 4.3, the App Store would give users a 15-minute window after password authentication to freely make in-app purchases. It was meant to streamline the experience, but after receiving complaints from angry parents, it changed it.

The iPhone maker recently settled an in-app purchasing lawsuit by agreeing to pay eligible class members with a $5 iTunes gift card or the same amount in cash. The company also said it would offer a full refund to those users who spent more than $30.

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