Apple Store skill sessions go online, as company adjusts to COVID-19

Apple Store Skill Sessions online
(Image credit: Apple)

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to limit the amount of time we can safely spend in stores. Apple's responded by shifting a lot of the in-store activities at its retail outlets to online.

Apple's online shift began nearly a year ago when it launched digital version of its Today at Apple sessions lead by its staff creative pros to show off different ways of using the company's gear. Starting this week, Apple plans to bolster its online presence by launching virtual product skills sessions centered around its key hardware.

Centered around the iPhone, Mac and iPad, these skill sessions will focus on making the most of the software powering those devices — think iOS, macOS and iPadOS. Since Apple makes its software updates widely available to older hardware, that means the skill sessions will still be of interest to people who've yet to upgrade to the latest phones, Macs and tablets.

Apple is using WebEx to host its skill sessions, with the goal of making it feel as much like a one-on-one in-store experience as possible. You won't see panes with the faces of other participants, for example, to drive home the idea that the Apple creative pro is there to focus on tips and tricks. You'll also be able to ask questions and interact with the session leader.

You can sign up for sessions at, with Apple planning to host one sessions per week across different time zones. Attendance will be capped at 250 people per session. Look for these online skill sessions to run through September even if the coronavirus pandemic eases and normal activity resumes at Apple's physical retail stores.

iPhone 12 in augmented reality

Apple now lets you view its products in augmented reality using an iPhone or iPad. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The launch of online skill sessions is Apple's latest move toward reshaping its retail approach to accommodate shoppers who are staying at home due to COVID-19 concerns. Those efforts include the ability to view recent Apple product releases like the iPhone 12 in augmented reality from Safari on your iPhone as well as online setup sessions with Apple specialist when you buy new hardware from the company.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.