Apple adds new rules on children’s apps to iOS developer guidelines

Apple has paved the way for the launch of its new Kids category on its App Store by adding new rules for children’s apps to its developer guidelines.

The newly-added “Kids Apps’ section of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines sets out the company’s policy on privacy, advertising and use of in-app purchases in iOS apps aimed at children younger than 13.

It comes after several months of news stories about children racking up big bills buying virtual items in mobile games without their parents’ knowledge, and ahead of the publication this autumn of a report on children’s apps by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading.

Apple’s new guidelines cover four key points:

24.1Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must include a privacy policy

24.2Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 may not include behavioral advertising (e.g. the advertiser may not serve ads based on the user’s activity within the App), and any contextual ads presented in the App must be appropriate for kids

24.3Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must get parental permission or use a parental gate before allowing the user to link out of the app or engage in commerce

24.4Apps in the Kids Category must be made specifically for kids ages 5 and under, ages 6-8, or ages 9-11

The rules aren’t a huge surprise for children’s app developers, with many having added privacy policies and implemented parental gates in their iOS apps in recent months, in response to private feedback from Apple.

Apple has not set guidelines on how children’s app developers may use analytics tools to gather information on what their young users are doing, although developers in many countries are governed by existing laws in this area – for example, the recently-introduced Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the US.

Clause 24.4 is interesting for another reason: it sets out how Apple’s new Kids category on the App Store will be structured, with the three age buckets.

The new category was announced at Apple’s WWDC conference in June, and will be introduced on Apple’s store as part of its new iOS 7 software this autumn.

It will provide a single point of discovery for parents to find apps previously scattered between the Books, Education, Games and Entertainment categories. Apple is currently recruiting an App Store Kids & Education Editor based in its London office to assist with the curation of the new category.

The children’s apps market is bustling with activity, from major brand-owners including Disney, the BBC and Nickelodeon to independent firms like Toca Boca and Nosy Crow.

A recent report from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom claimed that 91% of parents with a tablet say their children either use it or have one of their own, with 41% saying their kids use the device every day. — By Stuart Dredge © Guardian News and Media 2013

Image – AFP

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