App Store makes age ratings easier to see, even if they're still awkward for apps with built-in browsers

Apple has moved age ratings in the App Store to a higher, more prominent position, right at the top between the app and developer name, and the star rating. Like the previous change, which added a clear, highly visible label to apps offering in-app purchase, it seems designed to make important information easier to see, and hopefully better inform customers of what they're downloading before they download it...

...except, of course, for age ratings on the App Store are still confusing. For example, 1Password (pictured above) is rated 17+, which is now very easy to see. There's a legitimate case to be made that since 1Password -- and many, many other apps -- provides a built-in web browser, it could be used to browse for adult content like porn. However, rating it 17+ like a blood-and-skin-filled video game, can give people a completely wrong impression of the contents and purpose. "Does contain" and "may contain" are completely different things. (And here's where I stuff the clichéd "Apple's own Safari browser doesn't have a 17+ warning" bit.)

So yeah, moving the age rating up is great, but figuring out a way to make sure it properly reflects but the content and intent -- deliberate vs. potential -- would be even better. Perhaps a separate or extended rating for apps with web browsers would work. Even making the new, higher-placed rating tappable with a popup that explains the rationale behind the rating would be helpful.

Either way, it's nice to see Apple working on improving the App Store. Hopefully search gets a lot of love soon as well...

Meanwhile, share your thoughts on the change, and on how ratings could better reflect the types of apps being rated.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • If you have the "pop-up" option like you said, that would be a big improvement. It would give users a better idea of what to expect. I think the video game industry does a better job at providing the "why" games are rated the way they are. The movie industry still seems schizophrenic as to how they rate some films, but they're getting better. We just have to keep in mind that ratings are still subjective. A group of people sits around and asks, "How much is 'too much' for a specific audience?"
  • I think ratings will help the apps that we are trying to download much better, cause you can know what is the app about and what is the proper age, specially when kids are downloading games and apps
  • I like the pop up idea. That makes a lot of sense. Great review!""
  • Imo they should add a seperate 'rating box' with "internet", since classifying internet access as 17+ just doesn't make much sense. So it would be [4+] [Internet]. That makes more sense to me at least..
  • I like this, but it seems like the trend is away from the idea of "connecting" to the internet and toward "everything is connected"
  • The main problem is the whole idea of having the same age ratings worldwide. Age ratings are very dependent on the cultural background in each country. It begins with the formal classification (in Germany there should be by law only these age ratings: 0+, 6+, 12+, 16+ and 18+), but the content is what it is all about. Apple uses its US-standards for youth protection worldwide, although for Eurpeans these seem often quite strange, e. g. nude female breasts are seen as harmful for young people, but violence and splatter are okay for kids. We have country specific prices in iTunes, we should also have country specific age ratings.
  • Great Idea for apple. Good Job!!!
  • Better yet, get a young kid a leappad or something, mabe a ds or something. Besides it's up to the parents to monitor this stuff.
  • Exactly! Parents shouldn't be allowing their kids to download things in the first place. Turn on the parental controls and block downloads unless you do it yourself. If that's too hard, send the damn kid outside to play.
  • I agree, it is now much easier to see the age rating. But I was definitely confused downloading 1Password the first time and I received the message of 17 material, but quickly realized about the Internet browser. But on the same token, Tapatalk and Tapatalk 2 are both rates 12 but are subject to opening videos in app and the direct language of people on the forums. Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter rates 4 but both are known to be spammed by porn and are both very easily taken outside the app onto the web, or onto the web inside the all. And two more examples, YouTube and IMDB are rated 12 but you can watch all kinds of things on YouTube without logging in that are rated R or worse and IMDB has red band trailers and you don't need to log in to view them. So yes, it's easier to see the rating in the App Store, but it's still just as useless as it was before.
  • It's great to see the age rating even easier. Before you could only tell when you download and you get that pop up for age-restricted material. Some apps like 1Password confuse me due to them being age restricted; didn't make sense. Possible suggestion:
    I don't know if this is available yet, but wouldn't it be great if you could parent control what apps your kids download by setting an age limit to go along with this new age rating viewing? Would seem pretty cool. Smart parents, who set their children up with gift card based Apple IDs could limit not only what children can download, but what apps they can see when they 'search.' Would be pretty cool.
  • I like the change... And I hope that sooner or later, I get to see a change with reviews/ratings as well! Right now downloading applications from the Pakistani App Store works for me. However the thing that bugs me is that most apps don't have any reviews and/or ratings in the PK store! So I often find myself switching stores just for the sake of reading reviews and then switching back again to download the app - which can become quite a hassle if you ask me.
    What is like to see is sort of a universal review section. Ok it doesn't make sense to include all languages, but perhaps include a link to reviews from US/UK stores.
    What do you think?