How to Turn Off (the evil) In-App Purchases

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 6.49.05 PMAlmost two years ago, I blogged about turning off in-app purchases, after a child in the UK racked up a whopping bill of $2500.

Since many folks have recently subscribed to this blog after (probably) getting a new device for the holidays, I think it’s time to talk about this again.

First, my rant. Bluntly, I think in-app purchases are (usually) evil. It’s a model designed to get you to pay more and more just to finish whatever it is you are doing. In-app purchases often appear in games, encouraging you to acquire extra powers or lives or turns or whatevers. In the heat of the moment, many normally-sane people find themselves wracking up charges for…… well, lots of nothing.

It just seems to me that the vast majority of in-app purchases are simply designed to, uh, ‘get’ you.

If you have children using your devices, you should absolutely positively turn OFF the ability to buy these extras.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 7.00.17 PMBut I’d like to take this a step further and suggest that all of us boomers do the same. Those in-app purchases are pretty darn sneaky (and getting sneakier all the time). They can pop up and be confusing, and you might find yourself buying something you never intended to buy at all.

I recently downloaded a well-reviewed match 3 game, a Disney product, and was flabbergasted at all the “do you want to buy an extra turn/power/etc” that the game kept throwing at me. I’d MUCH rather pay for a game, and use it cleanly without any hidden costly surprises.

Here is how to turn off your in-app purchases on your iPhone or iPad:

Go to your Settings > General > Restrictions.

To enable restrictions, you’ll have to enter a passcode. Be sure to remember this, because you will need it if you want to change it later.

Once you have enabled restrictions, just slide on down and find “In-app purchases.” Slide the switch to off (not green) and you’ll be all set.


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App Bundles Save $$$

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With iOS8, you can now download a bundle of apps from the same developer at a bargain price.

They have apps bundles, games bundles and kids bundles. Simply put, a group of cookbooks is cheaper than buying them each separately.

Here is a screen shot of the “Where’s My Puzzle Pack” bundle.

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To take a look at all the bundles that are available, just head over to the app store, where you will find “Bundles” featured on their front page.

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Weekend Distraction: Peggle

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.46.24 AMI can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for several years now, and have never mentioned Peggle!

Peggle is a wonderful mix of “fun” plus “addictive-enjoyment” plus “challenging-but-not-too-challenging” plus (again) “fun”.

Not much of a learning curve. The basic premise: you release a ball and it bounces around on the screen, bumping into dots of various colors. Your job is to aim that ball as it is released in a way that will maximize its collision with orange dots. Your main goal is to clear the screen of orange dots before you run out of balls.

There will be a few obstacles tossed your way (of course). But you’ll learn as you go.

When you start, you have a choice of several different “modes” of play. I recommend “Adventure” as this will move you along gradually, screen to screen, learning as you go.

It really is addictive fun. There is something rather hypnotic watching that ball bounce around on the screen.

Here are two random screen shots. The arrangement of dots will change with each screen, and sometimes some of them are moving targets.



Peggle is 99¢ in the iTunes store

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Weekend Distraction: Word Solitaire

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Do you have a favorite chair? A favorite spot to curl up with a good book? I have an enclosed porch with lots and lots of windows, plants, and breezes, and a great big old comfy chair. In the summer I find myself spending probably too much a lot of time in that chair, curled up with a good book. And sometimes I put the Kindle down, and fire up the iPad for a leisurely game of ….. whatever strikes my fancy.

Recently I found a new goodie. A word game that is relaxing and fun. And free. Relaxing, fun and free. A trifecta! :)

Word Solitaire is a klondike-type solitaire game. Each card has a letter, and it’s your job to move them under each other to form words-in-columns.

There is a delightfully clear tutorial for you to use when you first open the app, and I would suggest that you use it. Don’t skip it. Once you complete the tutorial, you’ll be good to go.

Here you can see one of my earliest (winning!) attempts. You turn over cards, just like in Klondike, and put them under other letters to make words.


There are some expansion packs available to purchase if you want more more more.

It’s just challenging enough to keep you interested….

but relaxing enough for a lazy afternoon in that favorite chair of yours. :) Enjoy!

Word Solitaire is free in the iTunes store for iPhone and iPad


Word Solitaire HD is free in the iTunes store for iPad, only

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Weekend Distraction: Google Maps Trivia

First of all….. I’d like to apologize (in advance) for this week’s Weekend Distraction. It’s so much fun, that you may find yourself returning to it a little too often.

Just saying’ :)

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 8.29.18 AM The folks at Google have recently released this delightful time-eater-upper. Google Maps Trivia.

And you don’t have to go and get it from the app store. You already have it (if you have Google Maps).

(Even if you don’t have a smart phone, or an iPad, you can also play this on your computer. I’ll provide that link at the end of this post.)

It’s called Google Maps Trivia. Simple and appealing. Google will give you a random clue, and your job is to drop a pin on the correct location.

You start with 1000 miles. Miles are subtracted for any distance “off” the correct mark. When you run out of miles, you’re done. You can choose categories if you would like, or let Google throw them at you randomly.

To find this gem on your device, just open your Google Maps app.

Click on those three lines up in the upper left hand corner. Now look down the menu on the left side, and select “Google Maps Trivia.”

From Skitch-10

The game begins!

Let them give you questions, or select your own category.

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Answer the question, and drop your pin. If you’re wrong, Google will show you how far off you are, and subtract those miles from your 1000. When you run out of miles, you’re done.

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And when you get your answer RIGHT … Google cheers you on!


You can also play this game directly on your computer. I actually prefer to use it with a larger screen, and I find that I can be more accurate with my pin drops on my Macbook rather than on the smaller devices.

Follow this link to play Google Maps Trivia on your computer:

Google Maps Trivia

Have fun!

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Weekend Distraction: Bookworm

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 7.22.00 AMI hesitated highlighting this game. Why? Because it is so great that I have to imagine that everyone has it already. :)

But, this blog attracts lots of NEW users of the iPhone and/or iPad, and for those newbies …. you are in for a treat!!

Bookworm is an award winning game. Letters drop, and you tap them to make words. As you create words, your score grows. You’re happy and doing fine. Suddenly you see a new block, and notice that it is (gulp) on fire! Now comes the tricky part: You must use that letter before it hits the bottom, or your game is done. One burning tile isn’t too bad. But the longer you play, the more burning tiles appear. Quite a challenge! On this screen shot I waited too long to tap the burning tiles and they are starting to add up. Best to zap them as soon as you see them.


Bookworm is $1.99 in the iTunes store.

BEWARE!! If you’ve never played this before, you will find it incredibly addicting.

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Weekend Distraction: Threes!

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I don’t have a terribly long attention span for games.

But yet I enjoy pulling up an app and playing with it for a bit of challenging fun.

Threes! is the perfect go-to when you have a few minutes to kill.

(and… before I go any further, this app has NO ads, and NO in-app purchases! Yay!)

It is a lovely game. It is deceptively simple, works flawlessly and is surprisingly challenging.

You can choose to be taken through a bit of tutoring to get you started, and then away you go.

The challenge is to get the highest score you can (and then next time….beat your score.)

What to do? Combine 2’s and 1’s to make 3’s. Combine 3’s to make 6’s. Combine 6’s to make 12’s. Combine 12’s to make 24’s. Combine 24’s ….. you get the picture.



Once you try it a few times, you’ll be drawn back again and again.

I’m not alone in my enjoyment. The reviews are all quite positive:

Threes is a puzzle game with absurd amounts of charm

Threes App Review: A cute, casual and challenging puzzler

Threes! is what every indie App Store game should be!


Threes! for the iPhone or iPad is $1.99 in the iTunes store.

p.s…. my best score (so far) is 2,397 :)

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