Tablets

How to block in-app purchases on your Android tablet

Find out how you can block in-app purchases on your Android tablet with the help of the Google Play Store settings.

Have you noticed that a lot of Android applications include prompts for you to purchase other apps? It's quite annoying, especially when you're in the middle of a rather productive moment. Most of these in-app purchase advertisements appear in free (or cheap) apps and run the gamut of categories -- from games to communication to productivity.

Although it's generally very easy to dismiss these in-app purchase prompts, it's also just as easy to accidentally click to open the purchase link. Studies have shown that a huge amount of money is spent on in-app purchases (71% of Apple's App Store purchases come from in-app purchases, and in the United Kingdom, Android in-app purchases have generated over 30 million pounds). Fortunately, with the help of the Google Play Store, you can block these types of purchases.

The process I outline below doesn't completely disable in-app purchases, but it makes them require a password. This will prevent you from accidentally buying an app, and it keeps other people who use your tablet from making those purchases (even if they want the app that's offered). While this isn't a perfect solution, it does work.

Set up password requirements for in-app purchases

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your tablet
  2. Tap on the menu button and select Settings from the options
  3. Under User Controls, tap Use password to restrict purchases (Figure A) to enable it (if this option is disabled, tap Set or change Pin to establish an initial password)
Figure A

Google Play Store settings on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.
At this point, every time you try to purchase an app (free apps do not apply), you'll be required to enter the password that you've set (Figure B). Figure B

Type your password correctly or the purchase will not go through.

Make sure to never click Never Ask Me Again, because that will completely defeat the purpose of setting this password. If you're the only person using this device, and you feel confident that you'll never accidentally make an in-app purchase, you can turn this feature off by disabling the Password feature (in Settings, tap the Password entry until it is deselected).

Google Play Store tips

While we're speaking of Android app installs, did you know that you can also install applications from your desktop web browser? You must be logged into the Google Play Store with the same account that's associated with your device. Once you've done that, follow these steps:

  1. Search for the app you want to install (from the desktop browser)
  2. Select the app to be installed
  3. Click the Install button
  4. From the popup window, select the device to receive the install from the drop-down menu (Figure C)
  5. Click Install
  6. Click OK
Figure C

If you have multiple devices associated with the account, all supported devices will be listed for the app.

The app will automatically be sent to the device. If the device doesn't currently have a connection, the installation will occur as soon as the device is connected.

You can also add items to your Play Store wish list (to save them for later purchase/install). When you view an app, if you see the Bookmark icon (Figure D), you can tap that icon to add the app to your wish list. Figure D

Tapping the center icon will add the app to your wish list.

To view your wishlist, simply open the Google Play Store, tap the menu button (top right corner), and select My Wishlist. From there, you can select an app and install it. Once installed, the app will remain in the wishlist, but a checkmark will indicate that installed status.

Since you don't want to wind up with numerous in-app purchases, especially if you have a number of tablet users who might have trouble monitoring their usage, make sure you block those unwanted purchases with the help of the Google Play Store. What other tips do you have for managing the Google Play Store? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

2 comments
bconvermat
bconvermat

I have kids that use my tablet and sometimes I have to call my phone provider to get premium sms charges off my bill. What will be a good way to block off some of these ads on the apps? Even if I use a Kids Zone app still get them. - They are not going everywhere else on the Tablet but I get the charges. Thanks

ongahlek
ongahlek

This is great information. I hope everyone does all these setting. There are other apps which sells in-apps Premium services, for example NQ Call Blocker, how do you stop these? I don't even know when i purchase the service and i was slap with a SMS which says that this specific amount would be charge to your mobile phone bill!

Editor's Picks