The launch of Apple Pay, Apple’s NFC and Touch ID-based mobile payment solution, is upon us. Apple has begun preparing for the launch by kicking off Apple Pay training programs for its own group of retail store employees and by working with retailers to prepare for the debut later this month. The training materials, shared by a reliable source, for the Apple Pay launch at Apple retail stores have also detailed some new specifics regarding the Apple Pay setup and transaction processes both on customer iPhones and in Apple retail stores…
Starting with iOS 5 in 2011, Apple has released a major new iOS version each fall and a notable follow-up update early in the following year. For example, iOS 6 launched in September 2012 and was updated to iOS 6.1 in January, and iOS 7, which was launched in September 2013, was updated to iOS 7.1 with CarPlay and interface improvements in March 2014. But starting with the recently released iOS 8, it appears that Apple has a different development schedule for 2015 and perhaps beyond. According to sources, Apple is already hard at work on three major follow-up versions to iOS 8: iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, and iOS 8.3.
We’ve confirmed that these major new versions are in development via two means. First, a developer of a major hardware-connected iOS application has shared with us their analytics, and this data indicates that all three versions are in testing by Apple employees in or around Cupertino, California. Second, and much closer to home, our own Google Analytics for 9to5Mac.com show that iOS users are visiting our website via iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, and iOS 8.3 devices. iOS 8.1 hits to 9to5Mac.com started appearing even months before iOS 8.0 launched, but 8.2 and 8.3 visits only started picking up following iOS 8′s release in mid-September.
While Apple works on several iOS features and enhancements over the course of several years, it typically only begins wholly testing major new releases close to the ship dates of the preceding release. Apple working on three significant follow-ups to iOS 8 is a shift from the usual development cycle, one which would normally indicate Apple to be working on just iOS 8.1 as well as iOS 9.0. It’s possible that iOS 9 is also in the works, and of course Apple is always working on nominal bug fix (x.x.1 or .2 or .3) updates, but the fact that 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 are all in simultaneous development raises some interesting possibilities:
Ahead of Apple’s entry into the mobile payment space next month with the release of Apple Pay for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users, Apple has joined the GlobalPlatform, the non-profit association focused on standards for secure chip technology across various industries, as a full member.
Existing members of GlobalPlatform include various Apple partners and competitors alike with carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon being members as well as handset makers Samsung and BlackBerry. More importantly, Apple Pay partners American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are also members; Discover, which is not yet an Apple Pay partner but has said it is discussions over participation with Apple, is also a member. Read more
While we’d all expected plastic bank cards to be replaced by apps eventually, the CEO of mobile banking startup Moven is suggesting that Apple’s backing could mean the end of physical bank cards within 2-3 years.
The additional sweetners here are three fold. Firstly, tokenization will avoid much of the type of breaches we’ve seen at Target and Home Depot because the token is only a one-time use thing. Secondly, the move to tokens and the combination of biometrics, etc allow for the emergence of a ‘cardholder present’ approach to interchange rates that will potentially give mobile payments a competitive merchant rate. Lastly, the US might effectively jump straight from magstripe to mobile, especially if issuers can figure out how to reduce the cost of card replacement by moving straight to mobile SE and tokens …
Apple and longtime partner Disney this week are bolstering their stores with upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers, according to sources. Apple Stores have had iBeacons stationed throughout showroom floors for several months as a way to pinpoint exactly where a customer is within the store. This allows Apple to better serve customers by providing relevant sales information to their iPhones and iPads while in the store. The upgrades happening this week within Apple Stores place several new Gimbal Series 20 Proximity Beacons across stores to make location tracking within the store even more accurate.
In addition to providing relevant information for the Apple Store app, iBeacons can be useful for NFC mobile payment technologies as a form of authentication. If Apple knows where a customer is in the store to a precise degree, it can ensure that is it wirelessly connecting to the correct iPhone for mobile payments. As has been widely reported, the new iPhone 6 and upcoming Apple wearable device will include new wireless sensors (including a near field communication chipset) to conduct mobile payments with credit cards stored in an upgraded Passbook application.
The New York Times is weighing in on Apple’s imminent iPhone event, corroborating past information as well as adding some new tidbits about Apple’s newest iPhones (the ‘iPhone 6′) and its brand new wearable (dubbed ‘iWatch’).
Most interestingly, it says that the iWatch will feature a flexible display. Assumedly, this will allow the product to morph to fit comfortably on user’s arms. KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple’s use of a flexible panel in July. The screen is protected by sapphire glass. As 9to5Mac has reported countless times, the device will feature health and fitness tracking capabilities, for things like footsteps and heart rate. The report claims Apple has “put an enormous amount of time and money” to make the sensors track “much more accurately than existing fitness devices”.
In terms of software, the device will rely on HealthKit for health tracking and Handoff, one of Apple’s iOS 8 continuity features, to seamlessly share content between devices. Handoff could be used for sharing SMS texts between the phone and the watch, for instance. 9to5Mac discussed how Handoff might interact with Apple’s wearable a couple of months ago.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal today is corroborating many previous rumors about Apple’s upcoming wearable, including that the device will include some form of NFC technology and will be shipping in multiple sizes. Furthermore, the report notes that Apple will also be bringing NFC to its next iPhone as seen in previous leaks, making it easier for the two devices to pair and signifying that the watch will be more than just a fitness gadget:
The gadget’s use of near-field communication, or NFC, reflects Apple’s broader ambitions for the so-called iWatch beyond health and fitness tracking, the most commonly cited use. Apple also is expected to add the wireless technology to the next versions of its iPhone, people familiar with the device said, potentially simplifying the process of connecting, or pairing, the two devices.
Apple is reportedly in talks with department store Nordstrom to join as a partner for the company’s mobile payment system, as noted by Bank Innovation. As has been previously reportedly, Apple is also in talks with several other retailers about the possibility of accepting iPhone-based payments, and has deals in place with MasterCard and American Express as well as Chinese payment processor UnionPay to support the feature.
According to the Bank Innovations report, people familiar with Nordstrom’s systems have confirmed that the company’s current point-of-sale hardware is purchased from Apple and recently received a software update to work “with the latest iPhones.” These devices are said to be the same updated EasyPay systems implemented recently in Apple Stores across the country.
While not revealing anything new about the overall design of the phone, it does appear to give a much clearer view of how the antenna breaks are handled, with a significantly more subtle appearance than had been suggested by some earlier leaked parts, mockups and renders – as seen in the photo below … Read more
Apple is reportedly planning to include NFC in the iPhone 6 for secure wireless payments using chips sourced from a Dutch company called XNP, the Financial Times reported today. It’s not the first time this rumor has cropped up before an iPhone launch, but other recent reports seem to indicate that this year it might just be happening.
In fact, earlier this year Apple was said to have reached a deal with China UnionPay, the nation’s only domestic mobile payment processor, to include NFC support at countless retailers in the next iPhone. What’s perhaps even more interesting is that the technology may not be limited solely to the handset itself…
The company’s next iPhone will feature its own payment platform, sources familiar with the matter told WIRED. In fact, that platform will be one of the hallmark features of the device when it’s unveiled on September 9. We’re told the solution will involve NFC.