Apple's revamped retail experience

As Apple's brick-and-mortar stores celebrate their tenth anniversary, the company is ushering in new features to its retail experience. Macworld got a first-hand look at what's new at the Apple Store when we toured the flagship San Francisco store on Monday.

New and improved

As part of the store's redesign, all paper signage has been removed, leaving a single plastic block to designate the type of table along with a series of iPad 2 digital signboards. Each iPad is running Apple's Smart Sign app, which displays customized information about the product on display.

All in a row

The iPad 2 signboards, while new, did not seem to distract customers from the actual products on display.

Side by side

Face-off: iPad 2 vs iPad 2 signboard. Only one can win.

Mac attack

On the MacBook Air table, a Compare tab within the iPad's Smart Sign app allows customers to browse through every available laptop model and its specs without having to wander from table to table for more information.

Software you'll love

Tap an icon displayed within the Features tab, and a pop-up window will display with more information about that particular item.

Towering above

Every Apple product gets an iPad signboard—even the Mac Pro and the Apple TV.

Shuffle it up

The iPod Shuffle line is grouped by color onto a single signboard.

Old but good

Even Apple's previous iPhone model, the 3GS, received its own signboard.

Rate and compare

All the iPhone signboards have a Compare Plans tab that allows customers to browse both AT&T and Verizon's plans and coverage maps, and even build their own theoretical plan based on their voice and data usage.

Calling all specialists

Want more information than the signboard can provide? Tap the Specialist button and you'll be put into a queue to speak with the next available employee. You'll see the employee's name along with a picture in some cases.

Under the hood

From the outside, the iPad signboard has a single cable snaking from the rear to provide power. Along the underbelly of the plastic wedge, a thin ribbon cable connects to an Apple dock connector cable on one end and loops up and provides power into the iPad's dock connector port on the other.

Set up and go

Upstairs, Apple employees help customers set up their new hardware purchases, educate them further in training sessions, provide assistance at the Genius Bar, and conduct workshops.

Let me introduce you to your Mac

As part of its updated retail experience, Apple has expanded its Personal Setup program. First introduced in January in conjunction with the iPad, the program now extends to Apple's entire product line. After purchase, customers can sit down with an Apple employee one-on-one and set up their new Mac, iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV along with any software and peripherals they've purchased to go with it.

Train away

Apple's $99 One to One program takes place at the table next to the Personal Setup section; here, customers can come back for one-on-one sessions with Trainers and learn more about their Mac, iPod, iPad, or iPhone.

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