This app is a travel machine in the past of Apple Stores

This app is a travel machine in the past of Apple Stores

Shop Different is a sort of 3D game where you walk through an Apple store, like the one on Fifth Avenue in New York. The opportunity to rediscover old products and see the development of Apple. The app is free and reserved for macOS.

So yes, as we saw that a developer had modeled several Apple Stores in 3D to turn it into a video game, we laughed too on July 25, 2022. The approach, on the border between historical homage and fanboyism, has something to be doubted. However, there is clearly something intriguing about The Apple Store Time Machine (aka Shop Different), which is exclusive to macOS (Intel and Apple Silicon). In particular, it allows us to see the evolution of Apple over the last 20 years, as well as that of computers and the way they are sold. All with high definition graphics and amazing attention to detail for an indie project.

The Apple Store Time Machine, which weighs 1.72GB, opens with an animation of a Mac booting up, then gives way to a welcome video that appeared a few years ago when you first set up a Mac (remember, the one that’s in all languages ​​” Hello” says). You can then travel to 4 Apple Stores, carefully chosen to represent their eras.

The Apple Store Time Machine – 4.54.58The very first Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Tysons Corner. // Source: Conquer Numerama

Apple changed a lot between 2001 and 2015

That is the developer behind the project, Michael Steeber (an Apple Store enthusiast who maintains a website documenting his story). He decided to make his time machine free while trusting that his users would donate to him. The application models four stores:

  • Tyson’s Corner, the first Apple Store to open in 2001. He is best known for a video of Steve Jobs giving a tour to journalists and explaining the concept of the Genius Bar. You can find the video in the shop.
  • Stanford Mallthe first “Mini Apple Store” opened in 2004. Since being replaced by a larger store, it initially allowed Apple to expand its business strategy with tiny stores that could be anywhere.
  • Fifth Ave, the New York Cube that needs no introduction. The most famous Apple store in the world can be visited in its version of 2006, the day it opened.
  • infinite loop, a store that Numerama visited in June 2022, located at the base of Apple’s second campus. This is not the historical version (which was called The Company Store), but its redesign in 2015 with the new, more modern look of the Apple Stores.

The Apple Store Time Machine – 4.53.50At the Apple Store at Tysons Corner, a PowerBook at the entrance plays the video of Steve Jobs’ guided tour. // Source: Conquer Numerama

Every time you step into an Apple Store, you get a brief history lesson. For example, we’re told that in 2001, the year Tyson’s Corner opened, Apple segregated its shelves by use rather than by product category. Music, photo, home… This is how we moved in an Apple Store as in a supermarket (so iMacs were in several places). On the other hand, the Genius Bar from the first shop was there, as was the children’s corner, which Angela Ahrendts has since removed.

The Apple Store Time Machine – 4.54.18In the first Apple Stores, everything was categorized. // Source: Conquer Numerama

Shop Different also allows you to see Apple’s evolution over time, with, for example, the space occupied by the iPod becoming more important.

The design of the stores has evolved a lot, from very traditional tables to wood and glass, before gradually abandoning glass in favor of wood and aesthetic codes very specific to Apple.

Incidentally, we enjoy the presence of a section dedicated to software and games, sold in the form of discs. There were also Nikon cameras in Apple Stores or camcorders before the iPhone crushed everything in its path.

The Apple Store Time Machine – 5.00.26The Apple Store on 5th Avenue at its grand opening. // Source: Conquer Numerama

The Apple Store Time Machine – 1/5/52All Apple Stores had a software department. // Source: Conquer Numerama

The Apple Store Time Machine – 4.58.01We haven’t had mini stores that small in France, but Apple introduced mini stores in 2004. // Source: Capture Numerama

The Apple Store Time Machine – 2/5/55Starting in 2015, Apple changed the look of its stores. Infinite Loop was the first to benefit. // Source: Conquer Numerama

If you have a Mac and are interested in the history of Apple, then we highly recommend downloading The Apple Store Time Machine. Beyond the nostalgic aspect, it’s a very good way to see how computers have gone from being accessories to being essentials in our society.