Apple is redesigning its biggest stores for the first time in 15 years

Friday, 16 June 2017, 12:45:59 AM. Apple’s some 500 retail stores will start offering free educational programs that the company has branded 'Today at Apple.' The Today at Apple program bring with it some cosmetic and technological...

Apple’s some 500 retail stores will start offering free educational programs that the company has branded “Today at Apple.” The Today at Apple program bring with it some cosmetic and technological improvements to stores in order to accommodate the changes. News of the changes broke during a CBS This Morning segment. A spokesperson for Apple says no specific date has been set for these changes to be implemented, but that the program will launch sometime in May.

Today at Apple is just a part of what is the company’s biggest store redesign in 15 years. Apple is also adding conference and meeting rooms, new video screens, and living trees to about 100 locations by the end of this year; it’s also changing the name of the Genius Bar to “Genius Grove” in some — but not all — new and newly-renovated stores.

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Photo by Nick Statt/The Verge

The evolution is based on the major changes in store design that Apple debuted in Brussels in 2015 and furthered at its new Union Square Park location in San Francisco last year. The new look and feel they bring is meant to turn Apple Stores into a figurative, and on some levels literal, town square. For example, Apple wants small business owners and startups to come to the conference spaces in select stores to get advice from developers and entrepreneurs. Roles at the Genius Grove will also become more specific, offering targeted help with skills like music and photography.

The Today at Apple programs will range from teaching how-to information to what the company calls “professional-level programs.” Apple says in a press release that, for example, it will offer basic skill sessions to budding photographers, photo walks to more advanced shooters, and talks from professionals on brand building and social media. Apple will also offer coding classes based on the company’s Swift Playgrounds app, as well as project-based sessions for kids.

"The over-arching vision of the future of Apple retail ... is what do we want Apple's role in the community to be," Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, told The Verge at last year’s San Francisco event. "The store becomes one with the community."

Ahrendts was hired away from her post as the CEO of Burberry in 2013 in order to run the “strategic direction, expansion, and operation” of Apple’s retail and online divisions. "This is more than just a store," Ahrendts said last year. "We want people to say, 'Hey, meet me at Apple.'"

Update April 25th, 10:33AM ET: Added new information from Apple about the educational programs and clarified that some of the new design aspects were originally debuted in Brussels in 2015.

Update April 25th, 4:27PM ET: Apple has clarified that it only plans to change the name of the Genius Bar in some stores, and that there is no set date for modifications to stores in anticipation of the Today at Apple rollout. Larger changes based on the company’s new store design concepts will be made to 100 of its stores, but those modifications won’t necessarily be made to the 100 biggest as reported by CBS.

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