Should the App Store Let You Demo Apps?

Recently, here at TheAppleBlog, we made some backstage changes. Over time we realized that Socialcast was great for sharing and discussing ideas, but not ideal for handling business related tasks. As a result, we made the jump over to Basecamp. It doesn’t have the microblog feel of Socialcast, but it’s definitely easier to organize and communicate.

When we made the switch, my first thought was “I wonder if there are any iPhone apps for Basecamp!” A quick search in the Store reveals 17 Basecamp related apps ranging in price from free to $12.99. As a potential buyer, how can I possibly decide which one is the best value?

One of my issues with the app store is that ratings are very inconsistent. A few complaints over accidental crashes can definitely skew a score, and screenshots really don’t help me understand the app’s look and feel. I need to click around and play a little before I decide the fate of an app’s life on my iPhone.

My question is: why won’t Apple (s aapl) allow me to try an app before I buy it? The availability countdown works great for content rented from the store like movies. I can play all I want for 24 hours, and then it’s deactivated. That would be ideal for apps too. I download it, see how it works, and after some time the app prompts me to purchase when launched. The prompt has a link to the app’s page in the store and I can make my decision. This is often how it’s done on the desktop. Why not the iPhone?

As for Basecamp, I ended up sticking with the free version of Sherpa. It covers the basics and it doesn’t crash. I would prefer to try them all, but that’s impossible. For now…

So, what do you think? Should Apple implement a trial period on all for-pay apps? What do you think are the pros and cons?