Apple today unveiled a brand new unibody aluminum Mac mini that makes my HDMI-less model look like a chump, but if I get upgrade fever, I can now impulse buy the newer model using an app on my iPhone. That’s because Apple also released another brand new thing today: an Apple Store app for its iOS devices.
Despite its recent release, the Apple Store app already had 128 ratings at the time of this writing, the vast majority of which were overwhelmingly positive. Apparently people were desperately yearning for an easier way to fork over yet more of their money to Apple while on the go.
And while the timing may be coincidental with the Mac mini’s release, the goal of the app appears to have much more to do with iPhone 4. You can reserve a device for in-store pickup from Apple Store, and in fact it’s the first menu item available, and there’s a banner ad advocating the app as the fastest way to do so. Pre-orders for Apple’s much-anticipated next generation handset begin today.
At any time, you can follow two very obvious links to either get help with the app or call Apple direct, making it evident that the iPhone version of the store is designed to be as easy to use as possible. You can also access the refund and exchange policy by scrolling to the bottom of any product page, which is nice to see, since it looks like Apple is making every effort to be as transparent as possible in the limited space available on the iPhone’s small screen. No iPad version exists as of yet.
You can browse products by category, and accessory categories come up when you choose Apple’s various primary product offerings. You can add reviews for any product, and read others, and use the app to locate the nearest Apple store anywhere in the world. You can even use the app to make Genius Bar, One-to-One and Personal Shopping appointments, and the app supplies Push notifications, although it isn’t exactly clear what these will be used for yet. Probably to inform you of appointment time changes, or maybe even of order status changes for purchases made using the app.
As of right now, the new app appears to only be available in the U.S., since checking the Canadian and UK stores revealed that it hadn’t yet arrived in either. You can still use the app to make any kind of reservation at your local international store, though, so it’s worth downloading if you happen to have a U.S. iTunes account. Hopefully Apple will be rolling out the app to international stores as it launches the iPhone 4 in different world markets.