Apple has nearly 500 stores around the world. Now those retail spaces will double as education centers.
On Tuesday, the company unveiled “Today at Apple,” a new in-store program of educational sessions that will run the gamut from beginner to pro-level. Apple has piloted some similar programs, but only on a limited basis. This will be Apple’s most robust, in-store effort yet.
The free sessions, which will go global in May, will be geared toward multiple disciplines and ages, and attendees will be able to take courses, like iPhone Photography, over time that slowly improve their skills in one discipline.
To help support Apple’s new in-store initiative, each store is getting a small update with new seating and sound systems, as well as updated wall, mobile and forum displays.
“‘Today at Apple’ is one of the ways were evolving our experience to better serve local customers and entrepreneurs,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apples senior vice president of retail, in a release. “Were creating a modern-day town square, where everyone is welcome in a space where the best of Apple comes together to connect with one another, discover a new passion, or take their skill to the next level. We think it will be a fun and enlightening experience for everyone who joins.
Apple is by no means the first with this brilliant idea. When Microsoft opened its flagship store on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, it devoted a large space to in-store workshops on everything from Minecraft to Azure.
Many of Apple’s “Today at Apple” courses will be taught by trained in-house Apple employees and some creative professionals and artists. There will also be Teacher Tuesday programs where families and teachers can come to learn Swift coding and a weekly Kids Hour focused on creative, hands-on projects. While Apple expects most “Today at Apple” attendees to bring their own equipment, it will have some spares to share on a per-session basis.
Apple’s “Today at Apple” programs are broken down into a variety of session types including Studio Hours, where customers can bring in their own personal projects for guidance or co-working, Photo or Sketch Walks, which start in store and then lead people outside to help people better capture their world and community through photo and art.
There will even be some performances, only at some Apple stores, where musicians and artists perform and talk about their craft.
“Today at Apple” attendees will, when the program launches in full next month, sign up for sessions on Apple’s website, where they’ll probably also find a schedule. Frequency will depend on the sessions, according to Apple, though basic courses could run as often as daily.
Free, in-store classes are not just about education and altruism. “Today at Apple” could mean more retail foot traffic and, potentially, more Apple customers exposed to new products and technologies that they’ll eventually want to buy and integrate into their lives.