Mobile

Apple adds "Try Before You Buy" section to App Store, accomplishes nothing

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Apple has added a new “Try Before You Buy” section to the App Store on iTunes and iOS devices today in an attempt to promote “lite”, or free, versions of paid applications, reports 9 to 5 Mac.

But don’t get too excited — because the section doesn’t actually add any “try before you buy” functionality to Apple’s app ecosystem. It merely collects already existing lite versions of apps.

The section is part of a larger “Free on the App Store” section that was added today, which also includes “New and Noteworthy” free apps, and a collection of Apple’s favorite free apps.

There’s certainly some value in collecting lite app versions in one section — 9to5 Mac argues that it could be an attempt to squash app piracy. But if Apple really wanted to fight back against piracy — or really, accomplish anything — with the “try before you buy” model, it should step up and adopt the 24-hour trial limit that Google is using on the Android Marketplace.

Android users can download and use an app completely unrestricted for 24 hours. If they’re unsatisfied with an app, for whatever reason, they can uninstall it within 24 hours and receive a full refund.

Should Apple adopt a similar system, the benefits would be obvious: Developers wouldn’t have to deal with separate lite app versions, consumers would be able to try apps without worry or limitations, and Apple would seem a lot more amicable to both groups by doing so. Apple could potentially lose out on revenue from people who mistakenly purchase apps and don’t go through the app refund process, but that minor loss would easily be made up for by good will.

Given how quick people are to blame Apple these days — just look at the recent furor over the Apple patent that “copied” another app — the company could surely use some good karma.