Monday, April 13, 2015

iOS 8.3 took away one of my favorite parental controls

With iOS 8.3 Apple made an undocumented change that will make a few kids happy.

No, not the post-update dialog that will lead many parents to unwittingly enable 15 minute authentication lifespans for purchases. Apple documented that feature. Here’s where you undo any mistakes by they way:


The real change is that users no longer need to enter the App Store account password to reinstall any app that’s been previously purchased with that account on any device. There’s no setting to revert back to the old behavior of managing a reinstall very much like an initial installation (respect password settings as above).

Why does this matter?

Well, let’s assume you install YouTube on the KidPhone and late find some highly educational porn. In the old days you could just delete YouTube and be done — assuming your user doesn’t know the App Store account password. Now users can simply download it again.

Now imagine the problem if you do old school App Store/iTunes credential sharing like we do — we each have our own iCloud accounts, but our FairPlay DRMd material is all associated with my App Store credentials. Yeah, everything can be installed. It’s a good thing I’m not into S&M apps.

I don’t know how this works with Family Sharing, the change is too new to see much commentary. For old-school families like ours there are 4 options based on this screen …


Your options are:

Install AppsDeleting AppsResult
Off On App Store disappears so can’t install or update. You can’t update from iTunes either, so this setting is a pain in the butt. You need to go through the restrictions dialog to do app updates. User can delete apps which is convenient.
On Off suggested this one. User can download anything, but they can’t hide contraband. So if they install forbidden apps they get banished to “Install Apps Off” which is painful for everyone.
Off Off As option 1, but can’t remove apps. I can imagine limited use cases.
On On The default.

For now I’m going with Install On and Delete Off, with the warning that forbidden fruit will lead to App Store removal.

I’d love to see a fix from Apple but it’s going to take a lot of complaining. I’m not holding my breath.

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