Review: Apple Store app

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:37
Category: Review, Software

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By Steve Abrahamson

I just downloaded the new Apple Store app from Apple, and I must say, it’s quite nice.

Most of the comments seem to focus around crashing problems by people trying to pre-order their new iPhone 4. It didn’t crash for me at all, and I’m guessing that’s because I wasn’t interacting with AT&T’s servers, which are totally bogged down today (again). Overall, I think this a great app.

First off, it’s fantastic for Apple fans like me to have in my pocket, so that when a friend or colleague asks something about an Apple product, I can get specs right away, in seconds, in the palm of my hand. It’s great for that.

But I did find three problems, one frightening:

1.) It never asked for my account info, it just took it from the phone’s mobile me settings. That’s OK (it’s a first-party app, after all), but the app should say it did. So when I was idly poking around the app, I almost accidentally purchased several thousand dollars of stuff on my iTunes account! The app needs to make it more obvious at the start that it’s grabbing your credentials, and explicitly ask for permission to use them for purchases. I expect my iTunes account to never see purchases of over 10-20 bucks – I buy computers with a different credit card.

2.) Under Stores, it doesn’t offer the option to tell the store to set something aside for streamlined shopping. For instance, if you know you want to go in and buy a MacBook Pro and an LED display, and you know exactly what you want, there’s no way to specify that and have it waiting for you at the store to just pick up. If they want to get customers in the door and back out again in the most efficient way possible (and they do – they’ve done a lot to streamline and remove friction from shopping at the stores), they should offer this through the app. It’d be ground-breaking for computer retail, and be a great way to service the people who don’t need to spend time, just money.

You can set up an appointment with a Personal Shopper, who’s going to expect to answer questions and demo stuff… but the only way to say you want this stuff waiting for you is to put it in the “comments” section, and they might or might not even have a chance to read that – you have no way of telling.

3.) When I did look for Personal Shopper appointments, it told me there were none available at the store I wanted to go to. It did offer to look for nearby stores, which is nice, but I’d rather it was simply able to look further ahead. Do their servers only take appointments a few days out? Maybe they need to increase that.

Overall, this is a fantastic v1.0 app, and like most of Apple’s apps, it’s free. There’s plenty of time for refinements, but today, out of the gate, it’s an excellent app that every iPhone customer should have in their hip pocket.

Steve Abrahamson is a technologist and Certified FileMaker developer in Chicago. He has a small development firm, Ascending Technologies (http://www.asctech.com), and is really just a technofetishist writing software as a cover.

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