April 4, 2013
Apple has made another small but ultimately significant change in the iOS App Store. This time, it has to do with how the company displays the age rating for each of the app available for download in the store. Previously, the age rating for an app is found only within the Information section of an app in the iOS App Store, which often requires some scrolling down to see. But now, an easily seen age rating box has been added by Apple right below the developer's name. Effectively, this change makes the age rating one of the first things users see before downloading an app in the App Store. For your reference, here are Apple's age ratings and their corresponding descriptions:
4+ Applications in this category may contain no objectionable material 9+ Applications in this category may contain mild or infrequent occurrences of cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and infrequent or mild mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 9. 12+ Applications in this category may also contain infrequent mild language, frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes, and simulated gambling which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12. 17+ You must be at least 17 years old to purchase this application. Applications in this category may also contain frequent and intense offensive language; frequent and intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence; and frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; plus sexual content, nudity, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17.Exactly why Apple has instated the new age rating box is unclear. But the change has been made most probably in response to last January's controversy involving pornography in at least a couple of popular iOS apps. In January, the popular photo-sharing app 500px was pulled by Apple for "featuring pornographic images and material." It was restored to the App Store a week later, but not without carrying a new age rating of 17 and up, for containing "frequent/intense sexual content or nudity." The same age rating was given to the video-sharing app Vine after a pornographic video was featured as one of the Editor's Picks, no less, shortly after the app's release. The more prominent placement of an app's age rating may have also been implemented by Apple with regard to growing concerns over in-app purchases made by minors. Just a little over a week ago, Apple had also added an "Offers In-App Purchases" warning in the App Store for freemium apps and even paid apps that include in-app purchases.