Apple’s core values in store

It’s only a bunch of new signs and an app to help you spend money, right? Or is the update Apple Store the future of shopping? David Phelan reports

Remember the scene in ‘Minority Report’ where Tom Cruise gets his retinas scanned at every turn (‘John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now,’ the advertising hoarding shouts)? He’s even asked how that last pair of shorts worked out as he walks into a branch of Gap. Remember how it was creepy but seriously cool?

Well, we may not be there yet, but Apple, which revamped its 325 stores this week, is taking steps towards this slightly spooky future. There’s also a new Apple Store app, for iPhone and iPod Touch; naturally, it’s an accomplished tool when you’re at home or on the move and takes on new powers when you enter a store.

As you’d expect, the app on your phone shows you a bunch of featured products from the store, with prices, images and so on. You can add items to the basket and pay for them. So far, so what? It’s just the same as you’d get on the Apple website, though considerably easier to read than browsing the web on your phone.

Tap the Stores tab and the phone’s GPS kicks in to tell you where your nearest stores are, with opening hours, phone number and directions to get there courtesy of the maps app. There are regular workshops and events at all Apple Stores and you can check the calendar for the ones at this store here.

You can also reserve some products to pick up in store, like an Apple TV, Mac or iPod. Better still, you can reserve a session at the Genius Bar – the team of Apple experts who will advise you how to solve a problem and offer free technical support. And if you are a One to One member, you can book in for a workshop, personal project session and more. One to One is the service you can buy with your new Apple computer and gives you multiple extensive training and help sessions. They’ll transfer all the data from your old PC or Mac to your new one. It costs £79 for a year. You can also sign in for this on the Apple website.

Walk into the store, and the spookiness starts. Launch the app and as you walk in the door you get a message on screen, something like: "Hi David, Welcome to the Apple Store, Covent Garden. You have a Genius Bar appointment scheduled at 11:00am. Would you like to check in now?"

Assuming you’re not completely freaked out by this and run out the door while you still can, you’ll be sent a push notification when your Genius is ready, complete with their name and photograph and where they’re going to meet you. It’s not clear whether you should be wearing a carnation to help them recognise you but, hey, they’re a genius, they can work it out.

But supposing you don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch yet? There’s a kind of diluted future experience available. Where previously a simple card told you what the price and specs of an iPhone were, there’s now a Smart Sign – basically a modified iPad – on the table. The screen has the same information as the card. But now you can swipe down the touchscreen to reveal extra details, including available tariffs and comparisons of the phone networks. Where a card would need to be regularly replaced, the Smart Sign automatically updates as details change.

There’s also a tab on the screen marked specialist. Touch this and the nearest available staffer is alerted. Their name and photo appears on screen as they make their way to help you. They can answer questions and if you want to buy, their cleverly modded iPod touch can even be swiped to take your credit card payment.

It’s a slick system, and may mean you don’t have to join a queue to pay for an item, assuming you’re not paying by cash. After you’ve bought, you can go to the Personal Setup area where you’ll be shown how to operate your new purchase, how to download apps and so on.

It’s not perfect: the Smart Signs are locked to the table so if it’s too high for you to see, if you’re in a wheelchair perhaps, you could struggle. And if you’re not a gadget person, buying something for a relative, say, you could be daunted by the fact that you need to operate an iPad to get some details or attract someone’s attention. Mind you, there’s no simpler device to use, and you could always, you know, talk to a member of staff if you prefer.

In a world where automated checkouts at supermarkets are increasingly common, Apple’s new store advances are appealing and highly useful. Apple stores are stunningly designed and enjoyable to be in and these latest touches are in keeping with that styling. And much less unsettling than retinal scans. Although, one day, maybe…

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache, MySQL, Moodle)

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior .NET Web Developer - Winform / MVC

    £21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Java Developer

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Java Developer is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there