Apple’s goal has always been to simplify the retail experience, and the new Apple Store app is no exception. Now, if you purchase a product through the application, you’ll be given a new option at checkout: “Pick up this item.” Tapping that will prompt you to select a nearby Apple Store, and will even let you know whether or not the item is in stock. In most case, Apple says, in-stock items can be picked up with an hour. (Apple was previously allowing in-store pickup at a small number of locations for orders placed on its website; that feature now allows you to pick up at any U.S. store as well.)
If an item is not available immediately, the app will give you an estimate of when you can pick it up. For example, I configured a Mac mini with build-to-order options for processor, memory, and storage and was told that it would be available at any of the three closest Apple Stores on November 22. (By comparison, I was told the same model would ship directly to me within 2 to 4 days.)
Should you already be in a store, Apple’s new app also makes it easier to purchase select accessories with the new EasyPay feature. Using your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, you can scan the barcode on a product, which will provide you with information about it (specs, ratings, reviews, etc.), and then log in with your Apple ID and pay for it using the same credit card that’s linked to your iTunes account. After that, you can take your item and walk right out of the store. Receipts for items you’ve purchased via EasyPay are available under the app’s More tab, just in case the security guard isn’t convinced.
In addition to these features, the new Apple Store app also now lets you view the status of current and previous orders, including tracking shipped orders, in the More tab. And there’s now international support for Canada and China, though in-store pickup and EasyPay are currently supported in the U.S. only.
The Apple Store app is free and requires a device running iOS 4.2 or later; though it runs on an iPad, it still lacks a native interface for Apple’s tablet.