Whenever I go into an Apple retail store, I’m surprised at how busy it is, day or night, and also how many Apple employees are working the floor. Even with a blue-shirted associate within arm’s reach at any given time, Apple is now making it possible to purchase products and walk out without interacting with anyone.
The 2.0 version of the free Apple Store app, released last week, introduces a new EasyPay feature. Using the app on an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S (the only two devices mentioned, even though the app runs on the iPod touch and iPad 2), you can scan the barcode of “select accessories” and complete the transaction in the app. I’ve not had a chance to try the feature in a store. (EasyPay currently works only within the United States.)
It’s not clear what Apple means by “select accessories”; one would assume anything sold within a store’s walls could be sold using EasyPay. Products that don’t have a visible barcode, like Macs, iPhones, iPods, and iPads, must still be purchased with the help of a store employee.
If you know what you want and would prefer to minimize the shopping time, you can also now pre-order products using the app and pick them up at a nearby Apple store of your choice (again, only in the United States); the app checks to see if the product is in stock. According to Apple, most in-stock orders are ready within an hour of ordering.
The Apple Store app also adds the capability to track orders and view EasyPay receipts, incorporates “additional support” for stores in Canada and China, and requires iOS 4.2 or later.