Every Apple user should download the new Support app

If you're planning to give (or receive) a new Apple product during the holidays, the company's excellent new Apple Support app could come in handy.

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Al Sacco

Consumer Reports readers rank Apple laptops and desktops as the industry's most reliable. The hardware maker's tech support is tops, too, but if something goes afoul with your sleek, expensive Apple product you now have an easier way to get help: the new Apple Support app.

After you launch and sign into the app with your Apple ID, a list of all your Apple products appears. To start a support call, you tap the product that's giving you trouble. From there, you can use a keyword search to find a solution, or browse sections, such as "Startup or Power" or "Hardware Issues."

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Call, chat or bring in your Apple product for repair

When you find a description that matches your problem, you can call Apple support right away, and you see an estimate of how long the wait might be before you can speak to a representative. Without the app, you need to pick up the phone and call, and you'll have no idea how long the wait might be.

You can also use the app to schedule a call, call Apple at a later time that's better for you, engage in a chat session with support, or schedule an appointment to bring your product to an Apple store. And the Apple support team already knows which product you're contacting them about and the problem you specified.  

The app provides basic information on each of your registered Apple products. If you have a standard Apple warranty or an AppleCare extended warranty, for example, you can see when it expires, if it hasn't already. You can also see the last five characters of the device's serial number, though the full serial number would be more helpful.

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You no longer need to use the Apple Store app for support

The new Apple Support app takes over tech support responsibilities from the Apple Store app, which used to provide some help and the ability to schedule appointments. The Apple Store app's real goal, however, is to get you to buy new stuff, not fix the devices you already own.

Unfortunately, the new support app lacks one very helpful component: user forums. That's not a huge surprise, because Apple's support forums are jam packed with information that would bog down the app. But to pose questions to the Apple user community, you still need to go to Apple's support communities website.

Lenovo and HP also offer similar support apps

Apple isn't the first hardware maker to offer a support app. Lenovo Companion for Android devices provides tech-support video and articles that are filtered for your specific device, and it can be used to perform some diagnostics. Similarly, HP Support Assistant for Android gives you tech support resources and lets you quickly contact HP support.

It's a great idea for companies to release support apps, because they often make for better customer experiences. I suspect that support apps also make things easier for the vendors' support teams.

The release of the Apple Support app comes on the cusp of the year-end holiday gift-giving extravaganza. So if you plan to give an Apple gift this holiday season — or suspect you may receive one — you should download this helpful new support app ASAP.

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