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Apple retail software for iPads spotted

Apple is on the verge of supplying its retail store employees with iPads that will be running sales software. The units are said to replace the iPod Touch-based versions the company currently uses.


The 10-year anniversary of Apple's retail stores went by yesterday without so much as a peep from the company, though new evidence suggests changes are on the way for how customers will be able to make purchases at Apple's stores.

Following reports from earlier this week that Apple was delivering new tools and hardware to its retail stores to coincide with the anniversary, 9to5mac today managed to get a hands-on with new sales software the outlet says Apple will be rolling out to its stores this weekend.

That new software isn't for the registers or any of the computers that are available to the public. Instead, it's being delivered to iPads that Apple retail employees will be toting around the sales floor.

Shots of said iPads were posted earlier this week by Apple Insider, along with details about software called "RetailMe" that contains product information and other training materials. The existence of that software was confirmed by today's screenshots, which were up for several hours before Apple asked for them to be taken down.

The software itself takes the form of a newspaper called "The Daily Download" and gives employees a bird's eye view of things like store revenue, company stock, and "inventory constraints." From the looks of the screens, the app will also let employees jump to different information panes about the store, as well as access an employee directory.

Apple completely overhauled its mobile payment devices near the end of 2009, doing away with a 4-year-old Microsoft Windows CE-based system, for slightly modified iPod Touch units plugged into a device with a bar code and credit card reader. That system had buyers signing for purchases on the touch screen, which could also be done with the much larger iPad. The iPad 2's rear camera could also serve as a bar code reader with built-in software.

Apple's second-generation iPad remains a difficult product to pick up at many retail stores. While supply has eased at both Apple's retail locations and third-party sellers, the fact that there are 18 different models makes it a challenge for buyers to get the one they want without simply ordering it online and waiting the one to two weeks for it to ship. A report posted earlier today by analyst firm Sterne Agee said Apple is improving its production efforts with the device, but is still behind internal goals.