Apple sees its redesigned retail stores as community spaces

Apple’s retail stores have long had a social side. You might not visit just to hang out, but the combination of free workshops and an abundance of connected devices gives you a reason to stay besides gawking at the latest products… if just to check up on Facebook. And now, Apple is banking on that social aspect as a selling point. The company is both redesigning its 100 largest stores and launching new “Today at Apple” workshops to turn its stores into community spaces of sorts. The shops are still very much geared toward sales, but you’ll have more reasons to swing by on a frequent basis.

The bigger stores are now changing their Genius Bars into “Genius Groves,” complete with lines of trees. We doubt the flora will help you feel better when your iPhone is broken, but they’re at least more inviting. You’ll also see new conference and meeting spaces alongside new video screens.

The workshops, meanwhile, revolve around new in-store Creative Pros who host free sessions based around Apple tools and Apple-friendly devices. There are 90-minute Studio Hours that let you bring in your own project for advice (or simply work outside of your usual space), music and photography labs, a Kids’ Hour with programmable Sphero robots and pro-specific sessions. You’ll even see photo and sketch walks that take you outside of the store. All stores are getting new mobile screens to help present “Today at Apple” sessions, as well as the seating and sound systems to match.

The new workshops will be available by the end of May. As for the larger stores’ upgrades? That’s likely to vary by location, but it’ll likely be impossible to miss.

Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts tells CBS that this isn’t so much a reinvention as a logical extension of what the tech giant has already been doing in its stores. And yes, she imagines that people might soon decide to meet at Apple instead of the nearby coffee shop. That may be a tad optimistic when the workshops are clearly tailored to rookies and niche pros. However, the shift is still important — it suggests that Apple will fight retail competition from Microsoft and even Amazon by turning stores into regular destinations rather than strictly functional shopping hubs. If you keep coming back, after all, it increases the odds that you’ll buy an iPhone or Mac for your next tech upgrade.

Via: The Verge

Source: Apple, CBS

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Matterport brings its Virtual Reality Spaces to the iPhone

iPhone users who love exploring the world from the comfort of their couches have a new app to download: Matterport. The Google Street View rival has brought its virtual reality tours of various real-world locations to the iPhone. Matterport originally offered 3D views of everything from popular travel destinations to celebrity homes and historic places like the very first Boeing 737. It started going into VR late last year, though, and even launched a platform called CoreVR that makes it easy for content creators to turn their Street View-like shots into virtual reality experiences.

The company has around 300,000 VR spaces, 150 of which make up a curated premium selection, that you can access through the iOS, Gear VR and Cardboard apps. It also promises to keep converting and adding the rest of its 3D spaces. Take note that the app will only work if you have an iPhone 5s or one of the device’s newer iterations, and only if it’s running iOS 9.1 and higher. In case you’re a business owner looking to show off your place place in VR, though, you’ll also need Matterport’s $ 4,500 camera in addition to a new-ish iPhone.

Source: Matterport, iTunes

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