iPhone OS 3.0 to Allow Users to Share and Recommend Apps?

BusinessWeek reports that Apple has included features in its upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 that would allow users to share apps with other iPhone users, although whether Apple decides to activate those features remains to be seen.

Apple's new iPhone 3.0 software includes features that, if activated by Apple, may let users share software with one another, according to a person familiar with the technology. Eventually, iPhone users may even get a commission when they've induced someone else to make a purchase, says Richard Doherty, director at consultant Envisioneering Group. Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock wouldn't discuss features that might be available in the future, saying only, "We've made no announcements at this time."

The report discusses the role users might play in promoting applications to other users, pointing to the existing "Top 10" lists in most mobile app stores and "Tell a Friend" features built into some apps as useful but incomplete means of drawing attention to standout applications. Apple could take advantage of the "peer-to-peer connectivity" described at Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 preview event in March to allow users to "invite" nearby users to download applications.

One example of P2P connectivity will be available in the new iPhone 3.0 software, due this summer. Users will be able to play multiplayer games with one another using Bluetooth connectivity, rather than needing to be on a carrier's network. A player's phone will automatically detect nearby iPhones and iPod touches that run the same app and send them an invitation to join the game. Initially, the feature will work only when both parties already have a particular app. "Now you can sell copies of your app to two players instead of one," says Dave Howell, a former Apple engineer who now runs peer-to-peer file-sharing apps maker Avatron Software. In the future, a player may be able to invite another to a game when the second person does not yet own a particular app. Such invitations could trigger additional purchases.

iPhone OS 3.0 will be a major topic of discussion at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.