As noted by The Next Web, Apple has added a new “Answers from the community” section at the bottom of product pages accessed from the company’s online store, allowing users to read questions and answers submitted by the community, and reply to them by logging in with an Apple ID. Currently, a product page on Apple’s website doesn’t have this new section, but its dedicated retail store page does. Here’s an example of the iPad webpage, and its retail page. Furthermore, the section appears to have been enabled only for English-speaking countries: it is available on the US, UK, Canada and Australia Apple online stores, but it can’t be found in France or Italy.
In product pages, the new section is embedded at the bottom, displaying top questions from the community alongside “popular topics”. Single-product Q&A pages are available as well, with a sidebar on the left listing more popular topics and questions, and a link to visualize the most recent answers for a specific product. Questions include a variety of topics, such as, for the iPad, “which iPad is right for me?” and “what can I do with an iPad?”, alongside other discussions about apps, features, and “everything else”. Users can read questions without logging in, read all answers, browse similar questions, and submit an answer of their own through a dedicated form.
Separate from the Apple Support Communities that the company revamped last year, the “Answers from the community” section comes with a set of guidelines Apple is making publicly available. These guidelines have been online for quite some time — the possibility of leaving ratings, reviews, and questions has been a feature of the Apple online store, in one form or another, for years now — but the integration with product pages and overall graphical look are new.
It’s interesting to notice how, in the past months, Apple has been slightly tweaking the online Store to include social functionalities aimed at increasing options to share and discuss products. Last summer, Apple added Facebook and Twitter sharing to its online store, letting customers easily share links to a product with their friends and followers. Community answers are nothing new as a concept, but the way they are now prominently displayed on more product pages from the online Store signals a renewed focus on making the shopping experience more “personal” by enabling people to answer questions that, too often, an official FAQ section can only partially cover.