Author Archives: Mark Gurman

Apple to overhaul Genius Bar, changing appointments and using phones as pagers

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Apple will soon make a significant change to retail store Genius Bar appointments to improve the customer experience, according to several sources briefed on the upcoming shift. During the week of March 9th, Apple’s United States stores will launch a new initiative called “The new Concierge” that replaces traditional walk-in Genius Bar appointments. Currently, a customer seeking Genius Bar assistance can walk into an Apple Retail Store, explain the issue to a check-in assistant, and get a specific time to return for an appointment…

This new program, spearheaded by Retail Senior Vice President Angela Ahrendts, moves away from the classic appointment model. Instead, a customer describes the issue to an Apple Store employee, who inputs the issue into an updated iPad application. Using a special algorithm, the application provides the customer a wait time based on issue priorities. For example, a customer seeking an iPhone screen replacement will automatically be placed higher in the queue than a customer seeking help with a minor iCloud issue.

The customer then provides a phone number, which Apple uses to send three text messages with wait time updates:

  • 1) An initial text message confirming the Genius Bar request and providing the wait time
  • 2) A text message telling the customer to start heading back to the Apple Store
  • 3) A final text message telling the customer that their technician is ready to help and where they can be located in the store

Multiple Apple employees have called the new feature one of the most significant changes to Apple Store operations in several years, as it allows customers to request support on the spot, shop elsewhere inside of the mall, and then return when the store is ready to service them. This will likely reduce crowding in the Apple Store and possibly fatigue from waiting customers. Apple Stores will operate essentially like restaurants that provide diners with pagers and wait times instead of holding empty tables while people are waiting. However, with the SMS-based system, realtime feedback and interactivity will be provided without the need for additional hardware.

For the time being, Apple Store Genius Bar appointments that are booked online will remain mostly unchanged and will not gain the text message-based system that will replace walk-in appointments. Apple has piloted the updated process, dubbed by some employees as “the new customer journey,” in select markets on a small-scale in recent months.

The new Concierge marks yet another significant retail experience change from Ahrendts, who has already introduced new employee attire, a new emphasis on China, and plans for selling and guarding the jewelry-like Apple Watch. Alongside design chief Jony Ive, Ahrendts is also working on a more substantial redesign of the Apple Retail Store. Ahrendts joined Apple in 2014 after being the long-time CEO of Burberry. In addition to enhancing Apple Store features, Ahrendts has re-organized the Apple Retail management team and increased communication with retail employees in the field by way of weekly video messages.

Top image taken by Chris Buhr


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Angela Ahrendts, Apple Retail Store, AppleCare, Appointments, Genius Bar, Jony Ive, Overhaul, redesign, SMS, Walk-Ins

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Siri learns Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai and Turkish for iOS 8.3 beta 2

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In addition to Wireless CarPlay, more diverse Emojis, and improved logging in for Google services, iOS 8.3 adds a major new feature: several new languages for Siri. Over three years following the initial Siri beta in 2011, iOS 8.3 adds support for the following languages in Siri: Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and English for India…

Some of these languages were forecasted for a future version of Siri by way of multiple Apple job listings posted over the past couple of years. The new options are accessible via the Siri settings panel on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. iOS 8.3 is scheduled for release later this year and a Public Beta will be released in mid-March, according to sources. Apple is also developing iOS 8.2 for release in March, iOS 8.4 with the new music streaming service for the summer, and iOS 9 for the fall.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: 9to5Mac, All rights reserved, Apple Inc, Finally, iOS, iPad, iPhone, IPod Touch, iTunes, RSS, Russian, Siri, Thai, Twitter

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Apple releases iOS 8.3 beta 2 for iPhone, iPad with new Emojis, new Apple TV beta OS

Screenshot 2015-02-23 13.04.27Two weeks following the first beta, Apple has released iOS 8.3 beta 2 to developers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As we reported upon the first beta, the upcoming release includes a Wireless CarPlay feature, a new Emoji picker, improved login for Google services, an updated voice for Siri, and support for Apple Pay in China. iOS 8.3 is coming later this year, and sources say that Apple will release a public beta of iOS 8.3 alongside the third beta in mid-March. Apple is also working on iOS 8.4 with a new streaming music service and iOS 9.0 with bug fixes and performance enhancements as a tentpole feature. iOS 8.2, which currently stands at beta 5, will be released in March. There won’t be additional developer betas, sources say. Apple today also released a second beta of OS X 10.10.3 with the new Photos app. We’ll keep updating this post as new features are found in the latest beta. Apple has also released a new beta OS for the Apple TV.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 13.13.46- New Apple TV beta as well, no new features yet apparent

– Verizon LTE Voice is not supported on this 8.3 beta

– “The dialog that appears when connecting an iPhone to a CarPlay-compatible car is not functional,” according to the release notes.

– iOS 8.3 beta 2 has more diverse Emojis and flags:


Filed under: AAPL Company

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Apple finally dropping support in March for logging into iTunes via AOL

Image from 2009, when some people still used AOL

Image from 2009, when some people still used AOL

Several years late, Apple is finally dropping support for logging into the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore via an AOL username and password. Apple has emailed users with AOL accounts attached to iTunes to indicate that login support will end on March 31, 2015. Users have until then to convert their AOL login accounts to Apple IDs for iTunes services. Apple recently posted a support document with instructions on converting an AOL login to an Apple ID. Users simply need to login to iTunes with their AOL account and the conversion process will be offered. The conversion does not effect the main AOL account’s usage with AOL’s services. Apple partnered with AOL for iTunes logins in 2003. The full email to users is shown below (thanks, Joseph!):

Our records indicate that you have been using your AOL Username to sign in to the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store.

After March 30, 2015, AOL will no longer support your ability to sign in to the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store. In order to continue using store features, including the ability to access your previously purchased content, you must transition from signing in with your AOL Username to signing in with an Apple ID.

To make this transition, simply sign in once more with your AOL Username to iTunes on your Mac or PC. You will automatically be taken through a few short steps to complete the process.

When the process is complete, your new Apple ID will allow you to continue to purchase and download music, movies, TV shows, apps, books, and more. Additionally, your Apple ID will allow you to access other Apple services, such as iCloud and the Apple Online Store.

This transition does not affect any AOL services you may be using with your AOL Username.

AOL Usernames which have not been transitioned to Apple ID will permanently lose access to the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store after March 30, 2015. Apple will be unable to provide support for AOL Usernames which are not transitioned by this date.


Filed under: AAPL Company

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Apple airs filmmaking iPad ad narrated by Martin Scorsese for the Oscars

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On the day of the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Apple has begun airing a new iPad Air advertisement highlighting how the tablet is used in the filmmaking industry. The new video advertisement is narrated with excerpts from notable movie director Martin Scorsese’s 2014 commencement speech at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. The video, embedded below, is accompanied by a website highlighting specific stories of the iPad being used to make movies. These video stories were actually filmed and edited on iPads. The new website also discusses key video planning, filming, and editing applications for the iPad such as Final Draft, Garageband (but not the consumer-focused iMovie), and VideoGrade. This film-focused advertisement follows a music-oriented one that aired on the day of the Grammy Awards.

The iPad wasn’t the only Apple star at the Oscars; company co-founder Steve Wozniak played a part in a Cadillac (not Apple Car!) commercial below:


Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Disc jockey, FaceTime, Grammy Award, iPad, Los Angeles, Riton (musician), Television advertisement, The Gaslamp Killer

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Apple to begin offering web-based chat support for Beats hardware (update: live)

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Apple will expand its support capabilities for Beats by Dre hardware products, like headphones and speakers, next week by launching web-based chat support, according to sources. Customers in need of support for their Beats devices will be able to instant message with a support representative via Apple’s support website beginning on Monday, February 23rd. In January, Apple began moving Beats phone-based support wholly in-house after still using the headphone maker’s outsourced support for most of last year. Apple began servicing Beats products in its retail stores late last year.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 11.12.52

Update: Right on schedule, chat support is now available via Apple’s online support portal.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 11.11.52


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Beats Electronics, Google Chrome, iMessage, Instant messaging, iOS, iTunes, Macintosh, Personal computer

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Apple will fight iOS bugs with first-ever iOS Public Betas: 8.3 in March, 9 in summer

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In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases, Apple plans to launch the first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, according to the sources. This release will match the third iOS 8.3 beta for developers, which is planned for release the same week. Apple then expects to debut iOS 9 at its June Worldwide Developer Conference, with a public beta release during the summer, and final release in the fall…

Ahead of the October 2014 launch of OS X Yosemite, Apple released the new Mac OS as a beta to the first one million people who registered with interest. Apple has said that it will soon provide these users with early looks at OS X updates such as the upcoming 10.10.3 with the new iCloud-based Photos application. In order to maintain a higher level of exclusivity, the public beta program for iOS will apparently be limited to 100,000 people, the sources say. Apple began seeding a select group of retail employees with iOS betas for minor releases in January. In the hands of developers since last year, iOS 8.2 will not enter public beta.

Codenamed Stowe, iOS 8.3 was first seeded to developers in early February with several enhancements. The updated software includes support for Wireless CarPlay, an upgraded Emoji keyboard, an enhanced voice for Siri, and simpler login for Google services. A second 8.3 beta is expected next week. iOS 9, codenamed Monarch, will include fixes and performance enhancements as headline features. Apple is also working on iOS 8.4, codenamed Copper, that bundles Apple’s all new streaming music service. Like the early iOS 8 developers builds, the public betas will include a dedicated app that allows users to report bugs to Apple.

The main goal of the iOS beta program will be a more reliable and widely tested operating system by the time of the wider consumer launch, as Apple has come under fire for lack of quality control in iOS 8. Launching public beta versions of iOS will also reduce the demand for unauthorized sales of beta downloads from developer accounts, which enabled some consumers to test-drive future iOS features. Apple Vice President of iPhone and iOS Marketing Greg Joswiak publicly shared his concern regarding these blackmarket businesses, saying that Apple planned to fight those in the future.


Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Apple, Beats, bug fixes, Copper, design, features, Federighi, iOS, iOS 8.3, iOS 8.4, iOS 9, Monarch, Music streaming service, Stowe

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