Apple Stores pushing new table-based sales strategy, minor emphasis on third-party product support

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Apple is slowly rolling out a new customer service initiative across its retail stores called ‘table selling.’ With the new strategy, Apple Store employees are assigned a product table where they are responsible for working with groups of customers with different needs, albeit the same device, according to people familiar with the strategy. Previously, customers were individually helped on a first-come, first-serve basis and organized by an “iQueue” system that often resulted in lengthy wait times and customers walking out.

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Yahoo! Mail, Find My iPhone, Angry Birds, 1Password 4, Pokédex, Fantastical, Shazam, TWC TV, price drops, and more

9to5Mac has once again scoured the App Store for all the latest app launches, price drops, noteworthy news, and updates, and we have compiled everything in a roundup below. Check it out, but keep coming back as we continually refresh the list throughout the day.

Announcements

1. 1Password 4 for iOS
AgileBits, the makers of 1Password and Knox, posted a teaser vid on its blog this morning (above) and revealed 1Password 4 for iOS is coming: 

An unforgettable journey. An epic battle. A fellowship strengthened. Ancient truths protected by the one password you need to remember.

1Password 4 for iOS is coming.

Just Released

1. Yahoo! Mail | Free
Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer announced on Yahoo’s corporate blog today that a new Yahoo! Mail app for iOS has launched:

We’ve redesigned the new version of Yahoo! Mail with speed in mind — getting through your emails is faster than ever before. We’ve also made your inbox more intuitive and easier to navigate, allowing you to focus on what matters most: your messages. And, because mobile is everything these days, Yahoo! Mail now has a consistent look and feel across devices.

The app features inbox access with just one tap, push notifications for new messages, continuous scroll for inbox, auto complete email addresses, swipe gestures, multi-select message options, and the ability to attach photos, preview photos, and search in folders.

2. Pokédex for iOS | $1.99
An official Pokédex for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad finally launched last night. The universal app features Retina display and iPhone 5 support, six languages, powerful search functions, and the ability to “combine Pokémon from each region to make a National Pokédex!”

More updates and price drops below.

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First round of 27-inch iMacs expected to arrive as soon as Dec.13

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Earlier today, a number of customers who ordered the new 27-inch iMac when it went on sale on Nov. 30 started receiving notifications from Apple that their orders have now shipped. Apple quoted estimated delivery dates for these customers ranging from Dec. 18 to the end of the month. However, it appears some might even receive their new iMacs earlier with one 9to5Mac reader receiving an estimated arrival date of Dec. 13.

Apple changed the availability estimates for new 27-inch iMac orders on its website last week from “3-4 weeks” to “January”, indicating some new orders might not be available to ship until the end of next month. Unlike some of the new 21.5-inch iMacs originating from Fremont in the United States, many report orders of the 27-inch models as shipping from Shanghai, China.

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Highlight, Pageonce, Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope, StumbleUpon, Klip, price drops, and more

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9to5Mac once again scoured the App Store for the most notable apps that launched, updated, or announced news recently and gathered them in our usual list below.

Today’s crop includes updates for popular iOS games like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds Star Wars, as well as enhancements to social apps like Highlight and Klip. There also a few noteworthy new apps and price drops. Check out the full roundup below, but keep checking back as we continually update throughout the day.

Updates

1. Skype | Free
Skype just updated in a huge way yesterday, but it pushed out version 4.2.1 today to fix some critical bugs.

2. Highlight| Free
The app that locates nearby friends is now at version 1.3.1 today. The update includes performance improvements, bug fixes, and “reduced resource consumption.”

3. Angry Birds Star Wars | 99 cents
Rovio just launched version 1.1.0 with a bunch of shiny new features, including: 20 levels on the ice world of Hoth, an “attractive” power for Pink bird as Princess Leia, two bonus levels, and more.

4. Angry Birds Star Wars HD | $2.99
Rovio didn’t leave the HD version of its app by the wayside today; it is now at version 1.1.0 with the same new features as listed above.

5. Pageonce | Free
The popular app that tracks bills just went to version 5.71. The full changelog includes:

  • Celebrate our 4th year on iOS – get Bill Pay for free!
  • Schedule Payments: Plan ahead and set up your bill payment in advance
  • Shiny new app icon

Get more below.

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Announcement: 9to5Mac Apple Products pages

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It is the holiday shopping season again, and we know many of you will be looking to buy Apple- and Apple-related products this year. To help out, we’re compiling a new section of 9to5Mac called Apple products and separate sections for each of Apple’s lines. Elsewhere, we have seen buying guides, pricing guides, related news and predictions, but we’re wrapping them up into one page per product.

How it works:

1. With the help of our 9to5Toys editors, we’re finding the lowest prices on Apple products in the U.S. and keeping a matrix of the biggest retailers’ prices. Here’s the current static matrix of MacBook Airs.

2. For the last few months and going forward, every post we do on a related product will be propagated to the page so you’ll have a roundup of the latest information on each product line. Additionally, in every post on a topic, you’ll notice a new link to the product section on the right.

3. We’ll also have a record of Apple’s past updates on each product, which should help in estimating the next product cycle.

4. Finally, we have our best predictions on upcoming products from 9to5Mac’s editors headed by Mark Gurman.

Together—this information should help Apple product users and buyers make smart, informed decisions.

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Review: $199 Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi webcam for Mac and iOS

Logitech announced its 720p HD Wi-Fi Broadcaster webcam that wirelessly transmits to any Mac, iPhone, or iPad just last month, and we at 9to5Mac were able to get our hands on a review unit and have been testing it thoroughly over the last few days.

The webcam is specifically geared toward “video professionals, bloggers and hobbyists,” as it allows instant live streaming with Ustream and gives users the ability to toggle between the device and their computer’s built-in camera for second-angle POV shooting. The webcam is further compatible with most popular Mac video applications, such as QuickTime, PhotoBooth, iMovie, FinalCut Pro, FaceTime, iChat, Skype, etc., and it transmits from up to 50 feet away. Oh, and it comes with a plastic carrying case that doubles as a stand.

For more than the basic spec rundown above, check out the video and hands-on review below. Then, when you’re done, pick one up at Amazon for $199—you will not be disappointed. The Broadcaster is an ideal Christmas gift for any loved one or friend who is heavy into vlogging, YouTubing, live streaming, or even podcasting with Google Hangouts.

The hands-on review and gallery are below.

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Lowest price Mac desktops from MacMall: New Minis start at $551, iMacs at $1086

From 9to5Toys.com:

MacMall is offering 9to5 readers an additional 3 percent off its already lowest prices on Mac Minis and iMacs this month to yield the lowest prices you will find anywhere (by as much as $50) with free shipping via this link. The 3 percent is deducted at checkout and MacMall does not charge tax in most states.

All discounts, including higher end models, are listed below:

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Mac desktop lowest price special from MacMall: New Minis start at $551, iMacs at $1086

From 9to5Toys.com:

MacMall is offering 9to5 readers an additional 3% off of their already lowest prices on Mac Minis and iMacs this month yielding the lowest prices you’ll find anywhere (by as much as $50) with free shipping via this link.  The 3% is deducted at checkout and MacMall doesn’t charge tax in most states.

All discounts, including higher end models listed below:

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Most 9to5Mac Macintosh readers have moved to Lion

We were just rummaging through our web logs today to see how many of you guys have been upgrading to Lion.  Imagine our surprise when we saw that 53% of Mac users who visit 9to5mac have already done the update.  Here is the breakdown:

Today’s MacOS breakdown on 9to5mac

While our readership isn’t necessarily indicative of the larger Mac community, it does show that you guys have jumped in the deep end in a big way.  We should note that a full 10% of our readers were on Lion on Monday (below), having downloaded it ahead of time.  Apple today announced that a million people had upgraded to Lion overall, making  it the fastest MacOS update in history. Read more

Apple gearing up to launch upgraded Mac Pro with 16 cores

Following a report from earlier this week that claims that Apple is gearing up to launch a new Mac Pro in late July or early August, a reliable source tells 9to5Mac that Apple has referenced a mid-2011 Mac Pro in multiple internal documents. This, of course, is reference to an unreleased Mac Pro. Apple has not upgraded their professional desktop Mac since July 2010. Additionally, these internal documents are said to tout four new core Mac Pro models: 6 cores, 8 cores, 12 cores, and for the first time, 16 cores. This is likely in addition to some custom configurations.

If these internal documents jibe with what Apple will be soon releasing, Mac customers will be able to get their hands on a super-fast 16-core Mac. In addition to these specifications, we hear that Apple has already begun the process of assembling product manuals for the new Mac Pro, corroborating previous claims of a late July or early August launch. Our sources could not confirm if the new rack mountable design, which we detailed, will make its way into the 2011 model.

On a final note, a certain Apple executive has reportedly said the following in an email we’ve seen:

“Apple is investing heavily into Mac Pro”

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