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Apple kicks off new in-store sessions with concerts, classes

The company's "Today at Apple" program sees performances this weekend from artists like Estelle, Leon Bridges and Charlie Puth.

Apple will host special events for "Today at Apple" on Saturday in all of its stores around the world, including its San Francisco Union Square location.
James Martin/CNET

If you're a big fan of Estelle, you better run to the Apple Store in New York on Saturday.

Apple will kick off its new "Today at Apple" sessions this weekend with tons of free classes and concerts in Apple Stores around the world. That includes Estelle at Apple's SoHo store, Christopher Martin in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood; Charlie Puth, Lil Buck and Leon Bridges in San Francisco's Union Square; Dua Lipa in London's Regent Street store; and Sigrid in the Marché Saint-Germain store in Paris.

Apple in late April said it would launch educational seminars in all of its stores. The Today at Apple program is free and open to the public. It includes more than 60 different classes on topics like art, design, coding and photography.

The move is part of Apple's effort to turn Apple Stores -- which now number 495 around the globe -- into hangouts or town squares for the community, not just a place to buy iPhones. The company largely defined what a modern electronics-buying experience should look and feel like when it opened the first Apple Store 16 years ago. But some say the novelty has worn off, with Samsung and Microsoft successfully mimicking part of Apple's retail feel.

The company has tasked Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO who became head of the company's online and in-store sales in 2014, to turn things around in retail. Two years ago, Apple also promoted Jony Ive to the newly created position of chief design officer to give him more oversight over projects like retail store redesigns.

"This is not just a store," Ahrendts said a year ago during the opening of Apple's San Francisco Union Square store, the first in the world to feature the company's new retail design. "We want people to say, 'Meet me at Apple, did you see what's going on at Apple?'"

The company has offered workshops at its stores in the past, but the new Today at Apple program expands those sessions and lets users go more in depth on topics like art and design, music and coding. Apple will keep hosting "Basics" instruction for device newbies at all of its stores, and it will offer special classes for kids (Saturday mornings), teachers (Tuesdays) and businesses (timing varies by store).

Today at Apple

As part of Today at Apple's kickoff, every Apple Store in the world on Saturday will offer a "Photo Walk" session -- where store employees or notable artists take you outside to shoot images outside with your iPhone -- and a "Kids Hour" (recommended for children age six to 12). Stores will offer other sessions that day, but they vary by location.

Today at Apple will provide free training on "Accessibility Basics," like using the company's VoiceOver technology for people with limited eyesight; "How To" sessions for doing things like shooting artistic photos with an iPhone and staying fit with the Apple Watch; and "Studio Hours" where Apple's employees can help with projects you're working on that relate to photos, videos and other areas.

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Along with Photo Walks, Apple also will host "Sketch Walks" where you go outside to draw with an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro.

Select stores in places like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Phoenix and San Francisco will offer some additional sessions for visitors. A "Pro Series" will teach you how to use Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro. "Live Art" events will feature talented artists demonstrating how they use the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. "Photo Lab" will let you see how professional photographers using the iPhone to capture images, while "Music Lab" will feature musicians, producers and DJs showing you how to make music.

Those same stores will offer a series called "Perspectives" that goes behind the story of two influencers on one topic, as well as live performances like those taking place Saturday.

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