Is Google Considering Mobile App Trials?

File this one under “I’ll believe it when i see it”– though, this would be really cool if it does ever come to fruition.

According to a report on The Information, Google is allegedly working on a way for Android users to demo apps from the Google Play store before actually deciding to purchase. This, according to the website, is the word from “a person involved in the discussions” (which could mean literally anything). 

While I haven’t personally seen anything else on this story as of yet, the idea of Google mobile app trials does, in fact, make some sense. After all, with the company’s Android One platform built specifically for developing markets, removing the major barrier to entry (cost) from testing out an app could help developers reach a whole new market in countries they don’t currently see high adoption rates.

The estimated 5 billion people worldwide currently without smartphones aside, Google’s “try before you buy” strategy could also help encourage app developers to spend more of their time on Android specifically. The present-day approach, creating both free and paid versions of the same app, is not ideal from a resource-perspective; and, often, leaves users upset when they cannot access all of an app’s features immediately. This, in turn, leads to high abandonment rates– a statistic felt by both Android and iOS devs.

The theory of a mobile app trial (as was/is for “free” versions) is that users don’t particularly enjoy shelling out cash for something they haven’t tested. While, today, free apps can overcome this hurdle somewhat, they come with their own issues: the aforementioned lack of full functionality; requiring additional resources from developers to create and maintain; and, often, the likelihood for a user to just deal with the limitations of the “free” version without ponying-up for the real thing.

While I’m uncertain, from a technical perspective, how an “app trial” would work, I certainly agree it’s worth pursuing. Whether Google currently is, or not, is another story: one we’ll hopefully hear more about in the coming weeks.