How often should the App Store ask for your iTunes password? [Poll]

When you buy an app or game in the App Store, book in the iBookstore, or music, movies or TV shows in iTunes, you're asked for your iTunes password before the transaction goes through and the download begins. That's important when there's money involved. As the great Smurf berry scandal of 2011 taught us, you can never be too careful when it comes to preventing unintentional or unauthorized purchases -- that's why Apple now requires a password for every in-app purchase. But what about when there's no money on the line? What about when you're not buying something but just downloading a free app or game, or free song or feature? Should iTunes still ask for your password? What about when you're simply updating an app or game? Should iTunes ask then?

Some people, really security conscious people, would probably prefer iTunes ask for a password any time it does anything, always. Better safe than sorry. Who knows who could be using your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad after all, from a friend to a colleague to a spouse to a child to a friend's colleague's spouse's child. You really want to risk $100 in Hello Kitty apps suddenly showing upon your Home screen?

Other people, really convenience-oriented people, would probably like iTunes to ask for a password as little as possible. Maybe never. If you're the only one who ever uses your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, and it never leaves a place you control, then why should you be bothered by having to enter in a password every time an app has a minor bug fix update?

Personally, I'd like a choice (big surprise, right?) Give me a Settings option for "always ask", or "only ask for paid transactions". I don't think "never ask" is safe, so I'm fine with that not being there. What about you? How often do you think iTunes should ask for your password?

How often should the App Store ask for your iTunes password? [Poll]

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, hosts the ZEN & TECH podcast, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Prime.

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There are 30 comments. Add yours.

StoveNadir says:

I just wish it would stop asking me if I'm over 17. Answering 'yes' once should be enough for a lifetime.

Usrs Gustav says:

There needs to be a "like" button here. I agree that the 17 question is redundant especially on updates.

johncblandii says:

I actually prefer Android over iOS here. Android allows wide open downloading or a pin requirement. That is definitely preferred over a password for updates, which is crazy [read annoying] to me.

Soldier says:

I'd actually prefer if you jump on a rake. Android is stupid. Apple is king. Go away troll

Andy says:

I hope you step on a pile of legs.

patricksmangan says:

He's letting apple what is good on another platform that apple should steal next. Im game for all platforms doing that. Make my device better! #evolution

DarkMx2000 says:

I think you accidentally typed in Imore.com then Androidcentral.com. Next time if you decide you are going to bash the OS that the site is obviously in favor of, do us all one favor, use your brain your going to get flamed. There is no security on the Android Market (I refuse to call it Google Play) unless you go into settings and turn it on. I essentially can go onto my friends account if he pisses me off and download paid apps to his phone via bill to phone and screw them over. I came from Android 2 months ago there app store policies SUCK! Like U

Tom says:

John has been posting here on imore for years, he likes tech and he provides valuable comments. He is not, nor has he ever been a "troll," so you noobs just need to go piss off to whence you came from. I wouldn't touch android with a ten-foot pole either, but your attitudes need major adjusting.

CristianTM says:

"Some people, really security conscious people, would probably prefer iTunes ask for a password any time it does anything, always. "
As a (usable) security researcher, I disagree totally on this sentence.
Annoying the user to type the password every time again and again, specially on a not-that-easy-to-type device like and smartphone, has one immediate result: makes the user choose easier (and therefore probably weaker) passwords. And then if you remember that the same password gives access to all your iClod data, for example, that is a really BIG security problem.
I don´t have an immediate solution for the problem and that should be deeply analyzed, but as an option I would prefer to have a simple 4 digit pin to confirm app downloads and updates, and keep the password to access my sensitive information on iCloud, setup payment and so on (and to change/reset the pin). My main password could even be asked from time to time or something like that, or in cases where I am getting out of my buying pattern (e.g. I usually buy only 0.99 or free apps and now I want to buy a 19.99 app. Ask me my long password please!)
But ask for password allways is more an security problem than a security solution!

andsoitgoes says:

Just to note, Apple requires some fairly stringent iOS passwords, at least now. There has to be at least one number, and although this isn't a severe enough requirement, you can't just type "fluffy" and be done with it.
Just putting in the number increases the security significantly. Sure, people can just do fluffy1, but it gives at least the ability to, say, stick it in the middle. Just doing that is enough to make a major difference.

Brandon says:

Why can't they just allow us to choose if we want it to ask for our password or not? I personally would turn it off. My phone is always with me and I don't store credit card info on my account so if something were to happen I wouldn't lose hardly any money.

krislord says:

This has always been something that annoys me!
For me i'd like:
Updates to be applied without password - whilst we're at it, can we not have automatic updates? My phone sits doing nothing all night, update then!
For purchases i'd like to set a limit for which passwords are needed. Something like £2 would be good as most apps are below that.
We're all going to have contactless credit/debit cards soon - it's rather old fashioned to require a password for a 69p app :)

dvdmovieking says:

I like the idea of not being prompted for free items and updates, but I also like the current 15 minute window (as apposed to prompting for password on every purchase). That way if I get in a buying frenzy, I can just enter it once, and get all the apps I am looking for.

sfwrtr says:

Despite wanting freebies to just download, the fact that they could have in app purchases or be downloaded as a gag by somebody else or access data without permission makes me this Apple's current policy is best, if a bit irritating. Best to think first.

Halopend says:

All MOST people want is to remove the need for using Account Passwords when there is NO money at risk. Parental controls could take over for those who don't want their friend to install any app as they please. Basically everyone wins this way. The restrictions becomes optional and if you decide to use them, instead of typing a lengthy iTunes account password you can use the more simple parental password.

necigrad says:

As annoying as the popup is, I'd rather it be there. I don't want to download any app that I don't want to, especially since it's forever tied to my phone. Though rare, the popup has stopped me from downloading an app. Even free apps clutter things up, so I'd like to minimize this to the ones I WANT to download. I also agree with the password as a way to stop other apps from being downloaded.
With the above in mind, a compromise would be nice. Require some security SOMEWHERE, be it an iTunes password or iPhone/Pad/Pod PIN. Once that PIN or password is entered, shift to lighter security for a specified time (like the 15 minutes now) where any purchase is met with a simple "Are you sure?" box. Annoying? Yeah, probably a bit, but it's simple to get past and still prevents accidental purchases when your finger stutters.
And yeah, get rid of that damned "Over 17" warning. Once I've said that I'm over 17 I'm not going to get younger!

cardfan says:

I'm with the paid transaction, then ask. I'd also like to have a list of recent updates so i can keep track of what's been updated, then set it on auto update when on wifi.

jwsnj3rd says:

I'd rather it didn't ask every time I download an app or song it asked for it but I should give you a box to check so you can. This way it's up to the user.

Enzo83 says:

Best poll in a while. Definitely agree, Georgia. There should be some kind of way to allow us to not be asked constantly. My password is pretty long and it can be a pain in the bootay to type up and re-do if I mess up. Forward this to APPLE somehow. lol. They really need to start listening to us more---I mean, to an extent we SHOULD be heard and honored for once.

entwined82 says:

FYI, if you're jailbroken you can use passwordpilot to remember your password so you don't need to enter it in each time you're prompted for an update or purchase. Obviously it isn't safe to use unless you keep good track of your device or have a PIN code to unlock your device, but if you do either of those its pretty nice just being able to hit "ok" and have it update my apps automatically.

KungFuGrip says:

I'm a pretty busy guy... typing in my password - for an account tied directly to a payment source - is not a big hindrance to me. Color me cynical, but the first time there's an "accidental" or unauthorized charge, the same ones complaining about convenience will be on Apple Forums complaining that there should be more security in place to prevent such.
I DO agree that the "Are you over 17" thing gets annoying, though. You have me on file... how hard is it to keep my age on there as well?

andrewshah says:

This has to be the single most annoying thing about iOS. I don't see why we can't have a choice to disable the password for free apps at least.

David says:

I think it should be required for all purchases and freebies, but NOT for updates to apps that are already on the phone. Those should be treated separately. And yes, there should be a setting that lets you accept/not accept the installation of freebies (and, separately, of updates) in case you're handing your phone to your kid and you don't want new apps installed.

Fran says:

I think that if you have a passcode lock set it shouldn't ask you for your password. If you don't then it should only ask when you're buying an app.

Apple iAddict says:

I like iTunes askin for the password it gives you like 15 minutes before asking again if you loading multiple apps/songs.
Now I do wish they would let you take the credit card off the account and only use iTunes cards, that would be more secure

Rowanova says:

Ideally, I think it would solve every users preferences if this could be set up to the user's liking in the Settings app, under App Store. It's actually a simple solution to a simple convenience. I'd like to see Apple get this implemented in the next OS upgrade (iOS 6).

Liquid says:

I hate having to enter my iTunes password multiple times a day, on multiple devices. It's really annoying and not even consistent.
My apple tv can buy stuff without entering a password.
iTunes on the desktop has more relaxed password requirements or a longer timeout.
My iPhone and iPad and paranoid and require a password for every little thing.
The most annoying is iCloud where when I download anything, I now have to enter my password multiple times on multiple devices and funny enough they edit that part out of all iCloud commercials.
CHOICE is what we need.

Tom says:

Wow, what a douchebag.

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