Apple is readying a pair of notable improvements for Apple Store Genius Bars to be rolled out over the next couple of months, according to sources. Currently, Apple Stores allocate a fixed amount of time to each customer per Genius Bar appointment: 10 minutes for iOS devices and 15 minutes for Macs. If a customer’s issue requires more than that time amount, the customer is typically asked to book a successive appointment.

Apple has relied on this system in order to fit in as many Genius Bar appointments per day at each store and maintain a uniform experience. However, Apple has realized that not all technical support problems are the same and is preparing to officially allow for longer Genius Bar appointments.

Starting in the coming months, Genius Bar technicians will be able to extend the length of a pre-booked appointment at the point of service, allowing the Genius Bar appointment to continue without the 10 or 15 minute constraint.

Apple Store employees speculate that this feature will utilize a new algorithm to automatically re-assign appointments to other employees in the store as needed so that stores still serve all scheduled appointments despite the new variable time limits. Employees also believe that this change will potentially push back break times until an appointment is completed, but these breaks will not change in length.

Apple is also preparing improvements to walk-in appointments, those not pre-booked online or via the Apple Store application.

One year ago, we reported on Apple’s revamped Genius Bar appointment system for walk-in appointments, noting the shift to a text message-based system. The system allows a user without an appointment to walk-in to a store, explain their situation, provide their phone number, and receive a text message when a Genius Bar appointment becomes available.

However, this text message system has been one-sided, with customers unable to reply. A new version of the system in testing will allow customers to reply to Apple’s text messages in order to reschedule or cancel walk-in appointments. This update system will allow customers to quickly respond with single digits attached to commands rather than full length replies, sources said.

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