Apple is making an effort to progressively convert standard technical support into a more simplified and personal experience. The walk-up Genius support in Apple retail stores has been a great success, and the company is looking to bring similar experiences to Web-based support with new tools.
A while ago Apple created some buzz by announcing its popular discussion forums would be converted to a new Apple Support Communities service, but so far we have not seen any changes to the discussion boards. In the meantime, tools like Express Lane have been announced and today Apple expanded these Web-based options with My Support Profile.
The service uses your Apple log-in information, and lists your registered products along with your Apple ID contact information. There are options for quickly adding new products, and nicknaming them for easy identification, which may be helpful if you have more than one of the same product.
Clicking a product will bring up the support options for it that are still available. There are also options to view past and current support cases and repair activity pertaining to the specific device. In addition, the site offers device-specific help resources such as how-to guides and troubleshooting articles.
If you choose to create a new help case for a product, the site will launch Apple's Express Lane service, in which you select a product and narrow down the issues you are having to see if there are any existing solutions to your problem. If none are available then contact information for Apple will become available in addition to Apple's SelfSolve service for performing your own service and repair.
Unfortunately, much of the service requires the product to be either under warranty or covered by AppleCare. If the product is not covered then the service will warn you that pursuing help may require you to purchase a single incident of support, which will cost $29 for an iOS device and $49 for a Mac OS device.
Overall this service looks like a useful way for people with supported products to work with Apple to solve problems and get technical support, but once your product is out of warranty then the options become rather limited. Nevertheless, if you have a new Mac OS or iOS product, we recommend you register it and explore the support options so you will be better prepared in case something goes wrong.