What’s great about the App Store is that it allows for a one-click purchase experience that makes it easy to download apps. Users can browse the App Store on their Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads, check on new releases and apps they’ve been keeping an eye on, tap a button and download an app. For free apps and those sold at $.99 , it can become quite an addiction.
The App Store, though, doesn’t allow you to share apps with your friends as easily as it lets you buy them. Sure, there’s the possibility to share apps on Twitter and Facebook from iTunes – but that’s not really the best way to let your friends know about a specific app sold in the App Store, nor does it enable you to provide one of your friends an actual copy of the app.
Apps can’t be shared, and a new patent Apple has been granted, published by Patently Apple, is aimed at fixing that.
The patent, published on December 9th, showcases a way to share a fully functional app, a demo version or information about an app with one of your friends through mobile devices. According to the patent, a user will be able to select an app and send it to a “receiver” with just one tap. The app can be an actual copy the other user can run on his device, a limited demo version or a bunch of information with a link back to the app on Apple’s store.
After Aaron selects the application to share, Aaron’s iPhone retrieves sharing preferences from the selected application. If the selected application does not include any specified sharing preferences, the device could select or generate a default preference, such as a preference to not share the application. The application could have preferences that allow sharing fully functional copies of the application. In other cases, the application preferences allow sharing only a limited functionality demo copy, a fully functional copy that expires after a certain period of time, or an application seed that uniquely identifies the application on a server.
As you can guess, this transfer system would communicate with Apple’s servers to identify the users through their Apple ID and sends data back to Apple about the successful sharing process. The “sender” – always according to the patent – can be granted a “bonus” for sharing an app with a friend, such as iTunes credit, free apps or coupon codes.
The patent goes really in-depth and provides lots of additional information about the system designed by Apple which, sadly, we’ll likely never see. At least not in the next few months. It’s great, though, that Apple has been thinking about this – we think it would make for an impressive “Ping for apps”, or something like that.
Just think about sharing games with your friends. That would be huge.