9to5Mac reports that Apple is working on a new hardware solution for its retail store Genius Bars that would allow staff to quickly back up devices requiring replacement and move that data back onto the the replacement devices. While users are always encouraged to back up their devices before bringing them to a Genius Bar appointment, users who fail to do so and then learn that their devices require replacement can lose valuable data.
According to the report, the systems would essentially be a local wireless backup system capable of quickly obtaining an iCloud backup from a device and temporarily storing it while the device is swapped out for the user. Once the replacement device is powered on and activated if necessary, Genius Bar staff would be able to quickly pull that data onto the new device to provide the user with a fully-updated and functional replacement device.
A user brings in their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to the Genius Bar to be swapped for a fully working unit. The person didn’t back up their device. Now, instead of having to conduct an iCloud wireless backup or go home for a tethered iTunes backup, the Genius Bar will have the ability to mirror an iCloud backup, but onto a local store server. After the device is swapped, the Genius can pull the content right back from the server onto the new device. The content is then automatically wiped from the store server.
While users could presumably use their existing iCloud accounts and Apple’s in-store Wi-Fi access to accomplish similar backups in the event that device replacement is needed, the local systems are said to operate more efficiently and can assist users who have not signed up for iCloud accounts.
The report’s source indicates that the project is still in the early prototyping phase and may not ever be released, but if Apple does decide to bring it into the field it may begin appearing in retail stores in mid-2013.