During a town hall meeting earlier this week, Apple's VP for AppleCare -- Tara Bunch -- revealed several plans in the works for the company's technical support, sources say. Many of these revolve around AppleCare+, which extends the warranty coverage for devices and shrinks the costs for two incidents of accidental damage. Bunch noted that the company is planning to bring AppleCare+ to more countries, despite different insurance and legal structures making this complicated.
Apple is also reportedly
piloting an expansion of the signup window for AppleCare+ from 30 to 60 days. The company could make the new window permanent; to enable this, Apple is said to be experimenting with online diagnostic tools to simplify post-purchase signups.
Other possibilities include AppleCare+ becoming a subscription service paid for via iTunes, and/or bringing Macs into the fold, although Bunch explained that the latter might never happen because of the cost-benefit tradeoff. Bunch did suggest that Apple could start competing with rivals by supporting lost or stolen mobile devices.
Separately Apple is expected to roll out a new iOS support technology in the fall that should enable some sort of screensharing, much like the kind Mac AppleCare clients currently have access to. The exact details of how it will work are vague, although it may not be integrated into iOS itself.
The company is also tentatively considering running 24/7 phone support in some regions, but more concretely planning improvements to its online support site, with the eventual goal of handling all support that way. To that end development is progressing on tools for self-diagnosing and fixing hardware, software, and service issues. Forum and support tool pages are expected to be redesigned later this year, and include social networking options as well as better search functions.
To divert support calls away from Apple ID problems, Apple is said to be working on self-help tools for minor issues like password resets. About a quarter of AppleCare calls are claimed to relate to Apple IDs, iTunes, and iCloud.