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Amazon ditches TestDrive feature that let Appstore users try out software for free

Amazon has axed a feature from its Appstore that let users take paid-for apps for a spin before deciding whether to hand over the cash. The e-commerce company rolled out ‘TestDrive’ for U.S. customers four years ago – at the same time as the Appstore itself launched – but has now decided to shutter it because too few customers were using it. This was put down to the increasing number of free-to-play apps that attempt to generate revenue through in-app purchases.

Developers of around 16,000 Android apps on the Appstore had made use of the TestDrive service – not that many when you consider there are currently some 330,000 offerings in Amazon’s store. The company said in a statement that apps offering the TestDrive option will continue to be available and promoted within its store, only without TestDrive functionality. In addition, the TestDrive category has now been removed from the Appstore, and Amazon said it’s also stopped enabling the feature for new app submissions.

Related: Teenager spends more than $46,000 in free-to-play game

While many developers working today are more inclined to create free mobile software that includes in-app purchases, a number still hit the Appstore as paid-only offerings. For its part, Amazon occasionally launches limited-time promotions to take paid-for apps to a wider audience, with one offering $105 of apps for free turning up just last week (sorry, folks, it’s already over).

iOS app refunds

While Amazon’s Appstore has ditched TestDrive, Google’s Play Store continues to let Android users request a refund within two hours of purchasing an app. Meanwhile, toward the end of last year Apple started making it easier for Europe-based users to get refunds for apps purchased from its App Store.

Related: Google agrees to refund $19 million for kids’ in-app purchases

However, some users noticed the app would still work on their device even after they received a refund. With some users reportedly building up their app collections via repeated download and refund requests, the tech company apparently started to issue warnings stating that repeated abuse of the system would lead to the reintroduction of the old system – which is the current system in the U.S. – where refund requests are evaluated by Apple on a case-by-case basis.