Apple's new shopping message? You're not alone.
Most people in the US shop online and, even with complex choices like your next iPhone 14, it's not unusual to find yourself alone on the Apple.com store page trying to choose between an iPhone 14 Pro and an iPhone 14 Plus, and wondering if 128GB is enough storage or if you should make the big leap to 1TB. These are common questions that you can now get answered, on the spot, thanks to Apple's "Shop with Specialist" on-demand video program.
Starting today (March 14) anyone in the US shopping for an iPhone through Apple.com can summon a shopping specialist who will appear in a small video window floating atop the Buy an iPhone page experience.
Apple is leveraging its Customer Care Team (housed in an undisclosed location) to staff the video chats and guide Apple customers through everything from the right iPhone model to storage options, carrier plans, and, yes, even financing options.
Unlike a traditional video call, though, this rep will never see you. Instead, you join the call as a voice only while the Apple specialist remains on screen always guiding you to checkout.
What you can ask
Shop with Specialist won't start out as a ubiquitous part of the online Apple Store. For now, it's confined to Apple's iPhone offerings. However, that's certain to change over time, as Apple has plans to apply the service to all of its hero products. That means you may someday get kind video guidance from Apple on future MacBook and iPad purchases.
It's possible, too, that if you ask an Apple sales specialist about a product outside the iPhone fence right now, they'll try to offer some useful advice there, as well. It's also just as likely that they recommend you visit an Apple retail location for in-person help.
Apple's sales specialists are ready, within limits, to solve carrier questions. Otherwise, they may recommend that you contact your carrier directly.
Why launch the video help now? Apple's own feedback has shown an interest in just this kind of guidance in a video form. Now they have it.
No word on if or when Apple expands Shop with Specialists to other Apple gadgets and outside the US.
While it might seem odd to conduct a one-sided video conference call, Apple's choice is probably a smart one. There are all kinds of privacy and security issues that arise when you digitally invite someone into your home and life. Now you don't have to worry about an Apple sales specialist judging your 3 PM bathrobe or that full sink of dishes.
Today's shopping update also coincides with Apple's yellow iPhone 14 launch. Will someone need video guidance on whether to go with the purple, midnight, or yellow iPhone? Probably not.
The service is now available from 7 AM PT until 7 PM PT.
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A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.
Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.