Apple thwarts app piracy ahead of iPhone software release

Daniel Ionescu, Macworld
2 June, 2009
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Apple appears ready to thwart the piracy of iPhone Apps before it becomes a problem. Apple’s upcoming iPhone 3.0 software updated, which could be announced as soon as next week, will no longer allow you to re-download iPhone apps you once downloaded, according to a beta tester of the software.

This change of policy is in response to a new rumoured feature expected to be introduced with the iPhone 3.0 software update that will allow you to download iTunes content directly to your iPhone over the air. All you would have to do to download a TV show, for example, is submit your iTunes user name and password into your iPhone and start downloading. Currently to get premium video and other types of content on to your iPhone, you must purchase it first on desktop iTunes software and then sync your iPhone.

By restricting the ability to re-download iPhone apps, it would prevent someone from sharing (either intentionally or not) their iTunes account information with a third-party who could then download for free all the apps the iTunes account owner had previously purchased. The 3.0 firmware is said to allow users to log in and out of multiple iTunes accounts straight from their phone.

These changes in the iPhone App Store purchasing methods could be on their way, as the unveiling of the final iPhone 3.0 software update approaches next week. Multiple reports confirm that some iPhone 3.0 beta firmware users are seeing changes in the App Store purchase mechanism. In the new beta firmware, if one wants to re-download an application that you already bought and deleted, users will be prompted to buy it again when this procedure is done on the iPhone.

With iTunes account switching on the fly coming in the iPhone 3.0 update, users could share with each other their login credentials and re-download wirelessly apps purchased by another on different devices. Apple’s new measure could curb this behaviour, as it will prompt users to buy again an app if trying to re-download over the air.

It is not clear whether the App Store will prompt users to buy again an application they are trying to re-download only if they have changed their iTunes account on their phone (different from the one they use on their computer) or whether this measure will apply to all users. However, re-downloading an application can be done free of cost on a computer (if the app was already purchased) and then synced back with the iPhone.

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