Next Version Of iOS Will Let You Download Free Apps And Other Content Without A Password

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A forthcoming feature arriving in the next version of Apple’s iOS operating system, iOS 8.3, could make it easier for developers of free applications to acquire new users. Thanks to a new option found under the “iTunes & App Store” section with the iOS Settings application, iOS device owners will be able to disable the password requirement for free apps and other downloads. That means they’ll be able to just tap the “Get” button on iTunes to send the app to their device, no password necessary.

This is a relatively small change, but for mobile app developers, it could be a significant advantage. For many iPhone and iPad users, downloading new mobile applications is not a frequent activity. In fact, studies have shown that, despite the popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices, most users download zero apps per month. Instead, the top 7 percent of smartphone owners account for nearly half of all the download activity in a given month, comScore has said in the past.

In other words, there are those who regularly download apps, and there are those who only download new apps once an app reaches the status of being a “must have.” For this latter group of users, they seem to be relatively content to use their phone as is, after the initial setup is complete and their preferred apps are installed.

As to why that that’s the case is less clear. It could be due to the difficulties in discovering new apps on today’s App Store, or it could that many just don’t feel the need to try new apps on a regular basis once they have their phone set up with the basics. But to some extent, people’s decision to refrain from trying new apps could also be due to simple technical hurdles – like not being able to remember their Apple account information. They may then give up on downloads they would have otherwise been interested in, after being unable to authenticate with iTunes.

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The setting, which was first spotted by 9to5Mac following a reader tip, was currently disabled on devices running the iOS 8.3 beta, but it should go live when the updating operating system is released publicly. Of course, things can change between then and now, but it’s interesting at least that Apple has considered how to address this challenge.

The company, in the past, had allowed users to download applications for free without requiring a password, the post notes, but it later changed that behavior much to some users’ frustration.

Also worth noting: this setting only pops up when Touch ID is disabled on the device, which is clearly still Apple’s preferred method for making downloads easier while remaining secure.

In addition, the password requirement remains for paid applications, as there’s not an option to disable the setting for all types of downloads. And it works for other iTunes content, too, including music, books, movies and more.

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Featured Image: Evan Vucci/AP