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Apple tweaks store to show trial versions

To Americans at least

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Apple has tweaked its application store to separate out trial versions of applications, so they don't clutter up the freebies section.

US customers looking for free software for their iPhones no longer have to trawl through pages of "lite" and "trial" versions of applications, while those who are prepared to shell out for apps they like now have a dedicated shelf to browse through.

At the time of writing the change hasn't propagated to the UK store, though it's no doubt on its way.

Apple has always separated out free and paid applications, but developers and users alike have called for time-limited versions of applications on the basis that it removes on of the more common justifications for piracy ("I only use pirate software in order to decide if I like it") and avoids upsetting users who didn't read the application description properly.

Google's Android Marketplace, in contrast, offers a 24-hour money back deal that effectively provides a free trial for every application - or a free day's gaming for those who like stealing software but can't be bothered breaking the copy protection.

Mobile software used to be clearly delineated into free apps written by enthusiasts more interested in raising their own profile than making money and commercial packages developed by companies with attendant overheads.

Free apps tended to have terrible interfaces but good functionality, while the commercial apps were expensive.

Now the application stores are awash with advertising-supported applications claiming to be "free", and (in the case of iTunes) "Lite" applications which are little more than adverts for their revenue-generating siblings.

It would be nice to have a section for genuinely free applications - those written by enthusiasts simply for their own entertainment. But perhaps the enthusiasts are too busy making a living these days. ®

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