The way we learn and create was transformed overnight when COVID-19 swept the world. As Apple Stores closed and in-store Today at Apple sessions were put on hold, an online outpouring of creativity proved that the arts remain essential to our lives even under extraordinary circumstances. When our crisis winds down, how can Apple continue to expand its in-store creative platform online to reach even more creatives looking for inspiration at any time?

The Challenge Of Going Virtual

Today at Apple is a series of hands-on creative sessions hosted at Apple Stores around the world. As the liberal arts extension of Apple Retail, Today at Apple is designed to help you go further with your creative passions, get the most out of the Apple products you own, and encourage connection with others.

Today at Apple is successful, in part, because it comes to you where you already are: your community. Apple leveraged its 510 retail stores, often in city centers, to add spaces where learning and creative opportunities are accessible to more people. Picking up some AirPods? Why not stick around and learn how to create a song? In some cities, Apple has gone further and partnered with renowned museums to reach even more creators.

Today at Apple in person: An experience you can't get online

To go virtual, Today at Apple needs to come to you in all of the places you already are online. It can’t become its own centralized network or a content hub you need to seek out, like an app or website. Just as physical Apple Stores provide opportunities to the cities they serve, virtual content should foster the online communities we already love.

Shortly after the pandemic began, Apple launched Today at Apple at Home, a series of video tutorials hosted by Apple Store Creative Pros. Each video approximates an in-store session with quick activities you can try at home.

The videos are high quality, fun, and were created under unprecedented circumstances. I had a blast trying them out while stuck at home. But static videos aren’t deeply interactive. The format doesn’t offer an opportunity for feedback or moments of serendipitous creativity. To find the videos, you have to seek out the Apple Store app or search Apple’s website.

Truly great virtual experiences will capture the unique opportunities an online setting creates, not replicate in-person experiences. If you’ve noticed that Zoom calls, livestreams, and virtual events feel a little bit… flat compared to their in-person counterparts, this is why.

Today at Apple online: An experience you can't get in person

The Today at Apple Community

Today at Apple currently designates Apple’s events platform, but in a future with online content, Today at Apple could represent the global community that creates with Apple tools. From Instagram to Twitter, content branded as Today at Apple could instantly indicate a creative opportunity. There’s no corner of Apple’s business without a connection to the liberal arts.

Creative work should take different forms on each social platform depending on the content best suited for each community. Let’s imagine how it could look.


Today at Apple Online: Apple Music

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Have you ever wondered how an artist created the drum sound in your favorite new album? Today at Apple content in Apple Music could give you a behind the scenes look. Apple already has deep partnerships with countless Apple Music artists who love to talk about their creative process. Today at Apple adds an educational component, like interviews that explore the technical side of music production and tips for using Logic and GarageBand.

GarageBand’s Sound Library packs offer themed collections of Apple Loops and Live Loop Grids. Building on the success of last year’s Music Lab: Remix series, artists could collaborate with Apple to create their own Sound Library packs and Live Loops for aspiring musicians to build with and remix.

Photos, Art, and Design

Today at Apple Online: Instagram

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iPhone photographers love the Community Brief photo challenges on Apple’s official Instagram page. A Today at Apple Instagram page could teach customers how to capture the amazing shots featured by Apple and connect a global community of photographers.

Like Apple Store Photo Walks, Instagram photo prompts could include photography lessons on IGTV and geo-based challenges that encourage followers from individual cities to capture their communities as they see them. By sharing one location from countless perspectives, a worldwide audience could discover new places together.

Instagram boasts a talented community of designers and illustrators already sharing their work. Today at Apple residencies could invite artists to “take over” the account for a week and share their creative process as they work through a project. Artists hosting in-person sessions at Apple Stores could share highlights from the events.


Today at Apple Online: YouTube

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When Apple premieres the next Shot on iPhone short film on YouTube, it could include a video lesson from the crew and a guided Final Cut project that breaks down a key scene. Moving online opens up session content to highly specialized audiences, like pros working in advanced apps.

Creative Pros are the face of Today at Apple in stores, and their role could be elevated online as professional personalities you come to know and trust for valuable creative advice. Weekly vlog-style videos from Creative Pros could follow the journey of creating a Shot on iPhone short film from start to finish, with updates on gear and filming, interactive challenges, the editing workflow, and viewer Q&A.


Today at Apple Online: Swift Playgrounds

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Discovering a new app you love is a great way to be inspired to learn coding. Editorials on the App Store’s Today tab already do a great job of highlighting developer stories and could be expanded to tie in with Swift Playgrounds.

Imagine a profile of your favorite app accompanied by an interactive Swift Playground designed by the same team. Trusted third-party developers could teach you the fundamentals of how they made the features in their apps come to life and offer real perspective on developing for Apple platforms.

Performances and Exclusives

Today at Apple Online: Apple TV+

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At flagship stores, live performances and one-on-one interviews with creatives supplement the regular Today at Apple calendar. Online, Apple TV+ and Apple News are the perfect homes for this kind of content. In the same way that Apple made the OprahTalks COVID-19 series free for everyone, a Today at Apple channel on Apple TV+ could highlight conversations about important creative topics.

On Apple News, Today at Apple could offer perspectives from rising creatives and profile the work and inspiration of artists across the globe with rich editorial content. These spotlight pieces could accompany projects featured concurrently on other platforms like Instagram.

Studio Hours At Any Hour

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Feedback is essential to growing any creative skill. It’s the secret ingredient that makes Today at Apple so engaging even in an era of online education. That’s why the ability to talk to a Creative Pro as you work through a project is a must for Today at Apple online.

Apple Camp at Home is Apple’s first exploration of remote training with Creative Pros. Families can choose a time for one-on-one instruction via Webex. The ability to request Studio Hours for any topic could be built right into Apple’s creativity apps and available through FaceTime or iMessage Business Chat, the tool Apple already uses for technical support.


Today at Apple Online: Twitter

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What’s going on Today at Apple? Twitter is the hub to curate creativity happening on every platform. It’s the place to highlight great work being created and shared by participants every day.

Twitter also offers the infrastructure for a closer connection to the artists, developers, photographers, and musicians Apple has collaborated with. Special live Q&A hours could be the perfect opportunity to get your questions answered on a global stage.

Today at Apple Creativity Everywhere

Core Values

When Today at Apple was announced in 2016, Apple said the program “…brings to the community the world’s most talented artists, photographers, musicians, gamers, developers and entrepreneurs to inspire and educate our customers to go further with the things they are passionate about.” The experience began with an in-store component, but by definition online content was never ruled out.

Apple could expand Today at Apple’s reach without losing its vision by staying true to core values. Does it inspire creativity? Can people collaborate? Is it positive and fun? Then it’s Today at Apple.

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About the Author

Michael Steeber

Michael is a Creative Editor who covered Apple Retail and design on 9to5Mac. His stories highlighted the work of talented artists, designers, and customers through a unique lens of architecture, creativity, and community.

Contact Michael on Twitter to share Apple Retail, design, and history stories: @MichaelSteeber