Apple have made another leap forward in their quest to take control of every aspect of our lives. This time they’re taking on one of civilisation’s most successful conventions: money. The launch of Apple Pay is the tech company’s attempt at taking control of transactions and with iOS 8.1 (released yesterday in the US), it’s available now to (some) iOS device owners.
Getting up and running with Apple Pay is easy. Add the details of your credit or debit card and you’re all set to use your mobile as a method of payment in what Apple claims to be 220,000 stores worldwide. Apple Pay is not only built to replace your credit or debit card in physical stores, but also online. A number of apps have signed up to the transaction processor, and paying for products from within apps is now only a tap away.
Security is rightfully at the forefront of concerns over digitalised transaction systems and Apple have attempted to alleviate fears over your money being stolen. Every time you upload the details of a card onto Apple Pay, a unique device account number is assigned to it. It’s then encrypted and stored on the Secure Element, a dedicated chip stored in your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. This means none of your card details are ever saved on cloud systems, which will come as a relief given the recent photo hacks.
Suggestions that using your phone as a method of payment could be safer than the traditional card-based method is the subject of yet more debate. Apple rightfully points out the danger of exposing your card details every time you pull it out of your wallet. For Apple Pay, reports claim that if your iPhone is stolen the system recognises it is being tampered with and shuts down. How this is done in reality appears to be a little unclear at this point and, as such, work is still to be done to convince many that this revolutionary way of making a purchase is really the future.
Payment is remarkably simple, certainly as opposed to fiddling around with your wallet. Hovering your iPhone over the payment station and holding your thumb to the touch ID is all that’s required to go ahead with Apple Pay. A number of high profile stores have signed up for the service, such as McDonalds, Subway, Toys ‘R’ Us and the Disney Store. The full list of participating apps is available online with Staples, Uber and Groupon the most high profile names currently on board. In order to recognise any store that is part of Apple Pay, look for the contactless payment logo (below) also used for contactless Visa transactions at the checkout.
Apple Pay is by far the most impressive addition to the Apple OS in its latest update, 8.1. There are a collection of other smaller features which will also please users of Apple devices.
Your photos are now powered by the iCloud, allowing you to view them from any iOS device when online. 5GB of storage is free. If you’re a manic photo snapper, Apple has a series of structured deals for extra storage, starting at less than £1 a month for 20GB. The return of the camera roll from previous iterations of iOS is also a welcome one, a decision pushed through from user feedback.
Assimilating all your iOS devices is also a big part of the direction Apple is taking their OS. Allowing users to begin a word processing document or news article on your iPhone and continuing it on your iPad will be a handy feature for consumers who are heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.
One final feature is an extension to the standard personal hot spot. With the Instant hot spot, your iPhone will appear as a network option on your Mac, as long as it’s within range of course. From here, you can access the personal hotspot if you require Wi-Fi, as well as view your Phone’s battery and signal in the network bar. Apple devices are now also able to convert themselves into a Wi-Fi hotspot, finally aligning themselves with every other smartphone device from the last decade.
Whichever avenues Apple take themselves down, profits continue to soar. The latest Q4 figures revealed revenue of $42.1 billion. The sale of 39.3 million iPhones, 12.3 million iPads and 5.5 million Macs has fuelled this 12% year on year increase and left several competitors in the dust.
A strategy surrounding Apple Pay is indicative of how Apple manages to keep consumers from never entirely closing their wallets. Apple Pay is only set for full rollout on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, while the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3 will only gain in-app support. This leaves customers using previous iterations of the iPhone with the option of either upgrading to a new model or purchasing an Apple Watch, which can be linked up to your iPhone 5 or 5S.
Either way, a large portion of consumers who wish to sign up to Apple Pay are left having to fork out once again, adding to Apple’s $8.5 billion profit in Q4 2014.