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 “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 Concierge 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:
Multiple Apple employees have called the Concierge program 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.
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 hasre-organized the Apple Retail management team and increased communication with retail employees in the field by way of weekly video messages.
Apple debuted a new iPad ad to air during tonight's Oscar's. Apple highlights the new ad on their website which features students at Los Angeles County High School, using the iPad to write, produce, shoot, score, and edit films. It features a voiceover from Martin Scorsese and is called "Make a film with iPad".
While Toyota has long been listed as one of Apple's CarPlay partners, the third best-selling auto brand in the U.S. currently has no plans to offer vehicles with the feature in that country, as noted in a New York Times overview of the race between Google and Apple to own the dashboard. Toyota also has no plans to offer Android Auto support in the U.S.
John Hanson, the national manager of Toyota’s advanced technology communications, said while the company talked frequently with both Google and Apple, it currently had no plans to adopt Android Auto or CarPlay in the United States.
“We may all eventually wind up there, but right now we prefer to use our in-house proprietary platforms for those kinds of functions,” Mr. Hanson said.
While Toyota is ruling out the U.S. market for CarPlay support for the time being, the company has not made any firm announcement about support in other countries. Shortly after Apple's CarPlay announcement, Toyota's UK division briefly posted a blog entry claiming CarPlay would be coming in 2015, but the company quickly backtracked on the claim.
Today's report from The New York Times focuses more on Android Auto than on CarPlay, likely due in large part to Apple refusal to comment for the piece. Still, it offers a glimpse of the struggles auto manufacturers have had developing in-car systems and their reluctance to turn that experience over to Apple and Google.
With consumer preference driving the market, however, many manufacturers now see little choice but to support both CarPlay and Android Auto. Vehicles supporting both systems are expected to be hitting showrooms in the near future, with Hyundai likely one of the first out of the gate.
“We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”“We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”The data centers will be powered by 100% clean and renewable energy sources, with each having the lowest environmental impact yet for any Apple data center. Apple will also work with local partners to develop additional renewable energy projects derived from wind and other sources for future usage.
“We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives. “We’re excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is good for the planet, good for our business and good for the European economy.”“We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives. “We’re excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is good for the planet, good for our business and good for the European economy.”The 166,000-square-meter data centers are expected to be begin operations by 2017 and help support nearly 672,000 jobs in Europe, a large portion of which relate to the development of iOS apps. Apple claims that developers have earned more than €6.6 billion through app sales since the App Store launched in 2008.
Apple today seeded the second beta of iOS 8.3 to developers, two weeks after seeding the first iOS 8.3 beta. The initial iOS 8.3 beta came as a surprise because iOS 8.2 with the WatchKit SDK also remains in testing.
The beta is available through the iOS Developer Center. It includes Xcode 6.3 and a new version of Apple's programming language, Swift. Apple has also released a new Apple TV beta for third-generation Apple TVs.
While iOS 8.2 appears to bring only minor bug fixes to the operating system along with the WatchKit SDK and support for the Apple Watch, the first beta of iOS 8.3 introduced several new features including support for wireless CarPlay connectivity, a new emoji picker, support for Google 2-step verification, and Apple Pay support for the China UnionPay network. It also removes the "beta" label from iCloud Photo Library.
iOS 8.3 will be released following iOS 8.2, which is expected in March, so it may be a few months yet before we see a public iOS 8.3 launch.
What's new in iOS 8.3 beta 2:
Release notes - According to iOS 8.3 release notes, the new beta is not compatible with LTE Voice on Verizon. Apple asks that customers using Verizon set LTE to data only. There's also been a fix to the dialog that appears when an iPhone is connected to a CarPlay-compatible car.
Emoji - iOS 8.3 beta 2 introduces all new diversified emoji and skin tone modifiers. There are also new country flags and updated emoji for the iPhone, iMac, and Apple Watch.
Siri - Siri has gained support for several new languages, including Danish, Dutch, English (India), English (New Zealand), Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
Crash reporting - The new Xcode 6.3 beta 2 update includes a crash log reports servicethat collects and aggregates crash log data into crash reports that will be available in Xcode.
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