Apple Store for iPad (TechCrunch 001)

Today, Apple has finally launched the Apple Store app for iPad. The iPhone application was released back in June 2010 and all this time Apple has failed to provide the native tablet experience, until today. Apple Store for iPad, available now on the App Store, is heavy on gestures and brings a completely redesigned appearance which feels right at home in iOS 7 and takes advantage of the larger canvas on iPads by putting product images front and center.

The many Apple Store categories are nicely organized and always accessible via a sleek navigation bar which automatically gets out of the way. While the app provides important product description and other meta data, the use of white space and smart design adds up to readability.

Released in time for your holiday mobile shopping, Apple Store for iPad is arguably perhaps the best iOS 7 app Apple has written thus far, and I don’t mean that in a small way. Yup, it’s that good.

Jump past the fold for the full reveal…

TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino praised the interface design and said it will be “replicated heavily” by other shopping apps in the future. He also called it “a standard-bearer” for how native apps should look and feel under Apple’s new iOS 7 aesthetic.

The application taps crisp, Retina-optimized product shots that can be zoomed in and out using the pinch gesture and contains all of the features you’ve grown accustomed in its iPhone counterpart.

In keeping with Apple’s new iOS direction, the main stars of the App Store app are the images. They’re crisp, incredibly high resolution and all load and present beautifully. The pinch-to-zoom works well throughout, and doesn’t leave you with a blurry mess when you do.

Instead, all of the products, both Apple’s and third-party accessories, are crisp and wonderfully shot. There’s good reason for that, as most of the images used throughout the app and on Apple’s website are re-shot by Apple and not ‘manufacturer supplied’.

The top navigation bar indicates where you are in the app and it automatically disappears as you browse the products, Safari style, though you can bring it back at any point in time by swiping down. The all-new Now Trending section (an iPad version exclusive) lays out currently trending items in a grid with eye-candy product photography.

For those wondering, the app is portrait and landscape optimized.

Apple Store for iPad (TechCrunch 002)

Panzarino explains how the app one-ups the website experience:

Where things start to get interesting is the way that the app handles context on the individual item purchase page. When you’re presented with an item selection screen on the iPad, for instance, you’ve got color, storage and connectivity sections, as well as specs, box contents and warranty info.

If you tap on a color, you see the color options in the right-hand pane (or top pane in vertical mode). Tapping on storage gives you a contextually aware pane on the right that explains the size choice and why you might pick one over another. The same goes for WiFi or cellular options.

Some features present in the iPhone build are missing, however.

Namely, EasyPay and location-based Genius Bar check-ins are nowhere to be found in the iPad build. On the other hand, viewing and booking appointments as well as checking out nearby Apple Store locations is more streamlined on the iPad than in the iPhone version.

Here’s another screenie.

Apple Store for iPad (TechCrunch 003)

I’ve given the software a quick whirl and all I can say is that Apple Store for iPad really is the most efficient and certainly the best-looking way to browse the myriad of first and third-party products offered on the online Apple Store.

Another cool feature: pick a category (i.e. Headphones) and swipe between images for one of the products listed in a grid and marvel how all of the other product thumbnails follow your swiping.

Pretty neat!

Here’s the official list of key features:

– See the latest trending products that others are buying, sharing, and reviewing.
– Use pinch gestures to zoom, browse and compare.
– Personalize an iPad or an iPod with free engraving, and get signature gift wrap.
– Buy products on the go and pick them up at your favorite Apple Retail Store, or have them shipped to your door.
– Find an Apple Retail Store near you and view hours , get directions, check product availability, make Genius Bar reservations, or sign up for workshops and events.
– Explore Apple Retail Stores around the world and mark stores as favorites.

Apple Store for iPad is available free in the App Store.

Surprisingly enough, the iPad version is a standalone download so Apple better create a universal binary because this is 2013!