Apple made it easier Tuesday for Apple customers to buy Apple products with a new feature, called EasyPay, built into the latest version of its Apple Store mobile app.using Apple’s updated app, IPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users will be able to use their phones to buy Apple products and schedule a ‘personal pickup’ at any Apple retail store and track the status of their orders on the phone.
Even cleverer: the app can be used to buy ‘select accessories’ in the store by scanning the item’s barcode, making the purchase using a credit card associated with an iTunes account, and walking out.
That last feature might be hard for Apple’s rivals to duplicate. in an application with the U.S. Patent Office published in December 2007, Apple described a wireless system that would allow customers to place an order at a store using a wireless device such as a media player, a wireless personal digital assistant or a cellphone.
Apple’s application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes a process for placing an order and then notifying customers when an order is ready to grab at a pick-up station. One goal, the patent application notes, is to avoid an “annoying wait in a long queue if the purchaser arrives before completion of the order.”
U.S. Patent Application #20070291710 also hints that Apple may have bigger plans for EasyPay than just making it easy for iPhone users to spend money at its stores. The patent describes a device that also would keep tabs on where a user shops and what he or she likes to buy. Computers at participating stores would keep track of regular customers and their favorite orders.
Customers might tap a button to order their favorite drink, say a double-shot mocha, as they stroll up to the nearest coffee shop. when the drink is ready go to, the device–such as an iPhone–would chime or blink to let the thirsty user know it’s time to scoop up the order at the counter.