Is Apple Set to Announce App Trials?

We’re so close to tomorrow’s iPhone event that we can taste it, and the rumors just keep on flying. The latest comes thanks to Apple’s latest iTunes 10.5 beta, with ‘The Tech Era‘ discovering a rogue bit of code that, they believe, could point to Apple’s impending announcement of iOS app rentals.

The blog post points out that after the rental period has elapsed, the app in question would automatically be deleted from a user’s iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. While that sounds theoretically possible, I’m not convinced that’s the plan at all. What if Apple was planning on finally rectifying one of the issues that has plagued the App Store since day one? What if Apple was planning on announcing app trials?

It actually makes a lot of sense, and here’s why…

Let’s follow the logic from the original app rental rumor, and take it a step further.

Bob – that’s his name – wants to try out application X on the App Store, but he isn’t sure he will like it, or that it’s worth that price tag. An app rental, or trial, would work as a taster, or a way for Bob to try the app for himself, right on his own device. There would be no need to download a ‘lite’ app, and he could try the full-fledged one without limitation.

Real app rentals have an added benefit to the current ‘lite’ option, too. If Bob does decide that app X is his particular cup of tea, then the app can either be purchased via an in-app purchase that would effectively unlock it, removing the time limit, or simply re-downloaded. All his settings, all his saved games are already present – something that isn’t easily done using the ‘lite’ model.

Users have been crying out for a way to test apps for years now, and developers have had to come up with their own ways of letting potential customers try their wares without any monetary risk. Adding real, controlled trials to the App Store would benefit everybody, and would reduce the clutter by removing all the apps which are basically duplicated in order to offer a trial, of sorts.

With Apple’s iPhone event less than twenty-four hours away, we don’t have long to wait to find out just what the Cupertino firm has up its sleeve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if app trials are in there somewhere.

What do you think? Is there no smoke without fire, or have all the different rumors created misleading smoke signals?