Apple iPhone users can now order Apple store items online and pick them up at the nearest shop and even avoid the checkout line by paying for the items themselves.
Those two new options come courtesy of the latest update to the Apple Store app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Debuting today, version 2.0 of the Apple Store app is the company's latest effort to make the shopping experience, both online and offline, easier and quicker.
The personal pickup option lets you order and pay for an item through the app itself. But rather than waiting for it to ship, you can simply make plans to hop on down to your closest Apple store and pick up the product yourself. The app lets you choose the store and tells you if the item is in stock.
Free shipping is another perk. Apple already features free shipping on orders more than $50, but the in-store pickup option lets shoppers avoid shipping on smaller items. For example, ordering a $29 iPhone dock online normally tacks on a $4 shipping fee, but picking up the item at the store eliminates that charge.
Apple is promising that most in-stock items will be available within an hour of placing the order. You can easily track the status of new orders directly through the app to determine when your item will be available.
Another new option called EasyPay now lets you pay for items in the store all by yourself. All you need is your iPhone. You simply scan the barcode of the item you want with the phone's built-in camera and pay for it through the app, using the credit card associated with your Apple ID. You should then be able to waltz out of the store with your item fully paid for, though at least one report says you'll need to show an electronic receipt to an Apple Store rep on the way out.
There is one big limitation to EasyPay. Apple says it requires an iPhone 4 or 4S, so those of you with older model iPhones or a new iPad or iPod Touch seem to be out of luck at this point. It's also available only in the U.S.
The update to the Apple Store app had been rumored for a while. A story posted latest week by Boy Genius Report said that the update was due to launch last Thursday, but obviously Apple had other plans. The BGR story also revealed a host of details about both the in-store pickup and EasyPay checkout, but it's difficult to know which details are correct. CNET has contacted Apple to try to get more information on the new app and the new options.
One minor beef: The app is still designed for the smaller screen size of the iPhone and iPod Touch, so there's no iPad-optimized version. Of all companies, Apple should be able to cook up an iPad-specific version for its apps. Maybe we'll see that in the next release.