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iPhone 3.0 to nix app redownloading?

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It appears as if Apple's iPhone 3.0 software may make it impossible for you to use your iPhone to redownload an app that you had previously purchased from the App Store.

This restriction was pointed out by a Sunday posting on The iPhone Blog, which reports that when users running the iPhone 3.0 beta try to redownload an app they've removed from their phone, they're presented with a notification that reads: "You've already purchased this. You can redownload it for free on your computer, or tap Buy to buy it again."

They're then offered the choice to either cancel the transaction or, as the notification says, buy it again.

In the current iPhone Software 2.2 and earlier, if you had deleted an app from your iPhone to, for example, free up space, you were free to redownload it from your iPhone on the fly. Now it appears that you'll be limited to putting an app back onto your iPhone using iTunes running on your Mac or PC.

That is, if this restriction makes it into the final version of iPhone 3.0, which may be released as early as next week at Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference. Remember, the version of iPhone 3.0 that's currently making the rounds is merely a beta. And betas have this habit of last-minute morphing.

If fact, some of the iPhone Software 3.0-using commentors to the story in the The iPhone Blog report that they're not receiving that "tap Buy" notification.

If, however, Apple does add this restriction to the next iPhone OS, it will be a minor annoyance, but an understandable one. As has been widely reported, Apple will add multi-account management for the iTunes Store in iPhone Software 3.0. This will be a useful addition, for example, when an iPhone is provided to a corporate minion - one account is paid for by the corp, a second by the aforementioned minion, enabling him or her to download and pay for all the apps and tunes they see fit without biting into the corporate bottom line.

This multiple-account feature, however, is ripe for abuse: A miscreant could load his or her phone with multiple accounts of others - obtained either with or without the account-owner's permission - and download any and all apps that the other account owner had paid for.

Although there should be a more elegant way for Apple to circumvent such misuse, if this restriction makes it into iPhone Software 3.0, it'll be yet another example of a company protecting itself from a few bad guys by inconveniencing millions of good guys.

The iPhone Blog is conducting a poll soliciting opinions on this possible restriction. Although we'd defend to the death your right to your own beliefs, put us down for option three: "Don't care." ®

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