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Apple today updated its Apple Store iPhone application to include the expected ‘self-checkout‘ feature, which will allow buyers to purchase items in Apple’s retail stores without the need for a clerk to take their payment.

Apple Store App

The updated Apple Store app now allows users to choose the item they wish to purchase from the shelves in Apple’s retail stores, and then scan the barcode sing their iPhone’s camera. This will then allow the item to be charged to an iTunes account, just as apps, music and other online content is. The updated iOS app also expands Apple’s Personal Pickup option to all US retail stores.

What’s New in Version 2.0

- Personal Pickup: Buy in the app and choose to pick up your order at any Apple Retail Store. Most in-stock orders are available for pickup within an hour. (U.S. only)

- EasyPay: Purchase select accessories in store quickly by scanning the barcode and completing your transaction right in the app. (U.S. only, requires iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S)

- Track your stuff: View the status of current and previous orders from the order status section in the More tab.

There will be no need for any interaction with a human being during the process, with the buyer then simply leaving the store, though it is currently unclear whether there will be some kind of security check in order to minimize the risk of theft.

As anyone who has ever been in a busy Apple store will attest, often getting hold of a member of staff to ring up your purchase is one of the most infuriating parts of an otherwise flawless experience. With the best will in the world, Apple just cannot employee enough people to keep up with demand during a store’s busiest times. This new way of buying items will surely help in that regard, though we obviously hope Apple will not use it as a way to justify employing less people than it already does.

The self-checkout system will be available for anything that is currently available on the shelves inside an Apple store, with larger, more valuable items still requiring the assistance of a member of staff in order to process the order. Apple has also begun rolling out a new system that allows buyers to purchase items online, and then collect them in-store, again reducing the time required for processing a purchase for the busy store staff.

Apple will no doubt reap the benefits of all this over the busy Christmas period during the coming weeks.

Download Apple Store App 2.0 For iPhone [iTunes]

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