Apple is set to update its official Apple Store app early next week with a small yet ultimately significant interface change.

That’s according to a scoop posted by 9to5Mac earlier today:

The company, on Tuesday, July 23rd, will release an updated version of its Apple Store application for iPhone and iPod touch, according to a source with knowledge of the app. The new app has been redesigned to fit more in line with the user-interface of the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore in iOS 6.

The redesign, albeit slight, marks the integration of a major new feature in the App Store app. And that major new feature comes in the form of downloadable content.

Essentially, the upcoming update enables the Apple Store app to promote content from the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore. How? By offering certain premium items from those stores free for a limited time.

Apple Store app

For example, as indicated in the leaked image above, the puzzle game Color Zen, which normally costs $0.99, is made available to download free of charge from the updated Apple Store app.

This move is believed to, in the long run, go toward pushing iPhone sales directly from Apple Retail.

Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly held a summit for retail leadership mainly to address the fact that only a small percentage of iPhones are purchased from an Apple Store.

The upcoming new version of the Apple Store app constitutes a step toward increasing the visibility of Apple Retail as a direct seller of Apple hardware, including, of course, iPhones.

As pointed out by 9to5Mac, “Apple wants more users to install the Apple Store app so it can potentially sell them more hardware.”

Designed for iPhone and iPod touch but nonetheless compatible with iPad and iPad mini, the soon-to-be-updated Apple Store app is available in the App Store for free.

The app’s previous update arrived last April with support for delivery notifications and for notifications regarding upgrade pricing on new iPhones.

Of course, we’ll be sure to let you know if and when the new Apple Store app update goes live on Tuesday, July 23.