Apple To Battle iOS Piracy With App Rentals?

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Be it wariness of compatibility or quality, a lack of disposable income, or some unnoticeable form of protest, people will always find a justification to pirate things. Of course, many of these justifications tend to be secondary to the realization that Not Paying For Stuff > Paying For Stuff — but hey, I’m in no position to pretend to be on any sort of moral pedestal here.

Within the iOS piracy scene, the most commonly cited justification seems to be something along the lines of “There’s too much crap on the App Store! How will I know if an app is any good before I shell out a whole dollar for it? I’m not pirating, I’m testing!”

Well, Installous fans, it looks like you might soon have to find a new bit of logic to absolve your conscience. Based on a couple of strings tucked within the latest iTunes Beta, it looks like Apple might be crackin’ away at a way for users to give iOS apps a spin before they pay full price, no-jailbreak-required.

Unearthed by Twitter-goer and self-dubbed iOS Hacker Sonny Dickson, the new strings seem to refer to apps that have a “rental period” and that will be automatically deleted after said period runs dry:

App Rental Strings

Of course, it’s worth noting that these strings seem to be directly copied/pasted from those regarding iTunes Movie Rentals, but with the word “App” being swapped in place of the word “movie”. It’s a bit strange to ask the user if they wish to begin “playing” the app (outside of games), no?

If Apple does roll out a rental/trial system, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle pricing. Many, if not most, of the premium offerings on the App Store are 99 cents. How does one reasonably rent that out? 10 cents a week? Absurd. The system would need to support both free rentals (trials) for the nearly-free apps, as well as premium rentals to allow the more expensive offerings to experiment with marked down, time-limited installations.