If you want an iPad mini with Retina Display today, there’s only one way to get one: reserve it for in-store pick-up. That’s how I got my 128GB iPad mini with Retina Display on day one of availability while my colleagues Charlie Sorrel and Killian Bell were sitting at home, waiting five to ten days for delivery like a couple of suckers.
If you’d like to make the hunt for an iPad mini in your area easier, a new web-based tracking tool has been released that makes the process less tedious. But act now, because Apple has shown itself to be willing to kill these trackers before, although it’s possible this one will escape unscathed.
The new tracker is called Seaturtle.org, and here’s how it works:
Availability of new iPad minis at US Apple Stores based on our latest checks. The number in each grid cell is minutes since that iPad mini/Apple Store combination was last checked. You can click on the cell contents to check current status. Green means it was available at the last check, red means it was not. White means we have not checked that combination (i.e. no one has requested a check of that combination).
This is an interesting implementation. Seaturtle.org claims they aren’t scraping Apple’s website, per se, but using a public-facing XML service on Apple’s site. Most importantly, they are only performing checks when someone clicks on a cell, then storing that information for later. In other words, instead of trying to scrape the status of all iPad minis across all stores, Seaturtle.org is simply allowing users to check individually, but storing the details for later.
It’s a clever interpretation that may sidestep the fates of similar websites in the past, although I tend to doubt it. Apple wants you using the Apple Store website or the Apple Store app to do stuff like this, and Apple.com’s TOS makes provisos against using any “similar or equivalent manual process” to scraping to access portions of its homepage content. So this will be killed if Apple wants it dead. Better use it now, then.