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Free iLife and iWork apps can be installed on your older iOS devices, too

iMovie, part of the iLife suite, running on a new iPad.Wilson Rothman

Apple gave everyone a pleasant surprise in October when it announced that its iLife and iWork suites would come free on every new iOS device and Mac. But what the company didn't mention is that once you get the free iOS apps, you can install them on all your other devices.

The catch of course, is that the free versions of the apps only come with new iPhones, iPads, and Macs, meaning you'll need to get one of those before enjoying the $60 or so worth of savings. Not a cheap proposition. But luckily for people who are heavily invested in iOS hardware, the next addition to the iFamily will bring benefits for all.

When you buy a new device and open up the App Store for the first time, you'll see a list of Apple apps — tap a single button and all of them download. Some of it is older stuff, like iBooks and iTunes U, but among them are the newly revised iLife and iWork suites.

Now, go to iTunes on your old device (logged in with the same Apple ID account, mind you) and open the Purchased Apps screen: You'll see those new iLife and iWork apps that you hadn't purchased before listed up towards the top. 

We didn't try this out on Macs yet, but presumably the deal is the same: Open App Store, claim your software, then go to another Mac and see if you can download it on that computer, too. 

Apple says purchases with your Apple ID are good for up to 10 devices and computers (total), so it looks like you can spread the app love from a new iPad or Mac around quite a bit.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is