AWT News Update: March 29, 2016

Today's news:

  • The Maps "Nearby" feature now works in a few more countries around the world, Flyover is added to some cities, and we tell you how to use Nearby on the Apple Watch
  • Nintendo's Miitomo app is on its way to the USA this Thursday
  • The new Apple Store design sounds like a winner, and we tell you about some of the features you'll find in the design that's being rolled out not only at new locations, but in renovated stores as well

The text edition of the podcast can be viewed below.

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for March 29, 2016.

Apple has added a few more countries to the list of those that have access to the Nearby feature in the Maps app in iOS 9. That feature is now available in Austria, Denmark, Japan and Switzerland, in addition to the previously launched countries of Australia, Canada, China, France, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA. What does Nearby do? Well, it lets you know what restaurants, services, and retail stores are nearby, making it simple to find those services with a tap. Apple also added more Flyover locations to Maps, adding Niigata, Japan, Newcastle upon Tyne in England, and Augsburg, Braunschweig and Hanover in Germany. By the way, if you happen to have an Apple Watch in any of the countries with Nearby? Just tap the Maps app on the Watch, then tap the new Nearby button. Immediately you’ll see a list of buttons including Food, Drinks, Shopping, Travel, Services, Fun, Health, and Transport. Tap a button to see further categories, then tap again to see locations and ratings for those nearby businesses.

Remember hearing about Nintendo’s Miitomo app, which was its first iOS app released in Japan a few weeks ago? Well, it’s going to be released in the US on Thursday. It’s essentially those Mii avatars from the Nintendo Wii or 3DS world, brought to iOS so you can have conversations with other avatar buddies. Not really a game, but it’s a way for Nintendo to do a soft launch in the App Store before bringing other titles into the world. The company has promised to launch four more apps in the next twelve months.

Today my buddy Dennis Sellers told you all about the new next-generation Apple stores, one of which opened in the Memphis, Tennessee suburb of Germantown. There are other new stores that have opened that have the same new design, both in New York — Albany and Buffalo. The stores — and more that are sure to come in the near future including at the Aspen Grove store near my house that’s currently under renovation — have common features that make for a nice ambiance. Where possible, stores will have natural sunlight and plants, and the front facade will have no Apple branding. Remember the Genius Bar? It’s gone, replaced with a 37-foot HDTV display that costs about $1.5 million per store. The Geniuses are still around but work with customers at many of the tables in the new stores. Those tables have drawers and shelves where items can be brought out for demos. Lighting is apparently less glaring than before, now using recessed spotlights and reflected light where possible. Each one of the new stores must use renewable energy for operations; in many locations, this is probably done by purchasing energy from wind and solar sources so that the facilities don’t require external solar panel or wind turbine installations. I can’t wait to see one of the new stores.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of the AWT News Update.