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Wednesday, June 03, 2009, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple's new iPhone software may let users share applications

Apple's forthcoming iPhone Software 3.0 may introduce features that let users share their purchased applications with family or friends, a move that would give iPhone and iPod touch owners a greater say over which apps deserve the spotlight in the overly-congested App Store.

Citing a "a person familiar with the technology," BusinessWeek reports that the forthcoming software update "includes features that, if activated by Apple, may let users share software with one another." The publication goes on to speculate that such a feature could even be expanded to allow iPhone users to generate a commission "when they've induced someone else to make a purchase."

The ability to try applications before buying them has been a sore point with App Store shoppers. In an attempt to address this, some app developers have released "lite" versions of their apps that are free or close to free and include only a few levels or features of the full-fledged version.

This, however, adds a few more steps to the purchasing process for a potential buyer, since a second trip to the App Store must be made to purchase the full version. Additionally, the user will probably want to delete the lite version from the iPhone to free up memory and avoid confusing the two apps, which often have similar icons.

With the tens of thousands of apps available in the App Store today, shopping for interesting and useful applications can be a challenge. Friends and family often share common interests, and the ability to learn of a new application, obtain it directly from a friend or family member, and try it out could present a more streamlined approach to app shopping in many instances.

Apple has seeded five betas of iPhone Software 3.0 to date in which numerous discoveries pertaining to future software and hardware features have been made, but Wednesday's claim is the first to suggest application sharing capabilities will be amongst the software's highlights.

Apple reportedly declined to comment on the matter, with spokesperson Jennifer Bowcock stating that, "We’ve made no announcements at this time."