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Mobile Apps

Apple Store app now touts products based on the items you own

The app will steer you to stuff it thinks you'll want to buy depending on what you already own.

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screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple now has a new tactic to try to get you to open your wallet.

Updated on Thursday, the Apple Store app will now recommend and help you shop for products that work with the Apple devices you already own. So if you purchase an iPad, the app may propose buying a Smart Cover to accompany it. Or if you pick up an iPhone, Apple may suggest a dock to sync and charge the device. For me, the app pointed to a case for my iPhone 6.

You see your recommended products as you scroll down the app's Discover screen.

The new feature was leaked in late July by Bloomberg.

Strictly speaking, the feature doesn't look at your entire buying history but only at products registered under your Apple ID. So if you buy an item as a gift for another person who then registers it, that product won't factor into your list of recommendations. And on the flip side, if someone buys you a product as a gift, and you register it under your Apple ID, that item could then factor into your own list of recommendations.

A feature that analyzes your purchase history may strike some people as an intrusion into their private buying habits. Apple has typically depicted itself as a defender of user privacy. But the company is still a retailer, facing competition from the likes of Google and Amazon, both of which tap into data collection to try to decipher the wants and needs of their users.

Apple does specify that only the name, model number and part number of your devices are linked to the Apple ID accessed by the app. You can also turn off the feature if you don't want Apple to track your purchases.

The latest 4.0 version of the Apple Store app adds other features as well.

You can now better manage your Apple account with an Account screen designed to be more user-friendly. Featured workshops and other events at your local Apple retail store will pop up more readily. You'll also be able to see when an order will be ready for pickup and what time an Apple Store reservation will start.

Further, you can now scan a product at certain Apple Stores to learn more about it, make sure it's compatible with your existing hardware or software and then buy it through your iPhone. Finally, you can see if a product you've tagged as a Favorite is available when you visit a participating Apple Store.