By David Dorf on Oct 31, 2011
Back in mid-2010 Apple launched their own iOS application to support their stores, but it was overshadowed by the release of the iPhone 4. I finally downloaded the app, and it appears to be well-done (no surprise there). Users can get detailed information about stores and products, and even buy some products via the app. The app locates the nearest store where you can reserve products, make a genius bar appointment, arrange for training, or see the event schedule.
Now MacRumors is claiming the next version of the app will allow self-checkout in stores for items on the floor. This makes lots of sense since the high-value items aren't stocked on the floor anyway. If you'd like an iPad, you still need to talk to an associate, but if your just looking for a case or adapter, then grab one and check yourself out.
Now for the interesting part: self-checkout uses your iTunes account for payment. I have been predicting that Apple will someday enter the payment field, and this seems like the start. In theory, Apple could extend the ability to purchase items outside Apple using the iTunes account. That might be particularly valuable once Apple adds an NFC chip to the iPhone. Some big hurdles to overcome but still on the path.