TIME Smartphones

How You’ll Be Able to Use Your iPhone 6 as a Wallet

A guide to the mobile-payment system Apple is expected to unveil on Sept. 9

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, and rumors about some possible features have been years in the making. One of those features is expected to be Apple’s big foray into a mobile-payment system, which would allow users to make purchases on the go with just their iPhones instead of their wallet. But if ditching cash and debit cards for one device sounds like a nightmare from the future, don’t be alarmed. Here’s what you need to know about what Apple might be planning and what the system could eventually look like.

How would I use my iPhone to pay for something?
The way you pay for anything else while shopping — visit a store, walk up to the register, present your method of payment (cash, credit card or, in this case, your phone) and make a transaction. The exact specifics of how these transactions will work is unclear, but it’s likely to function like an expanded version of the iPhone’s Passbook app, which allows users to store tickets, boarding passes and coupons with bar codes that can be scanned.

What technology would allow mobile payments to happen?
Wired, which reports that mobile payments “will be one of the hallmark features of the [new iPhone] when it’s unveiled,” says that near field communication (NFC) will be a major part of the feature. NFC is a way for devices to wirelessly exchange small amounts of data over very short distances, usually within a few centimeters, often by tapping one smart object against another. While devices using Bluetooth technology have to be set up to work together, the presence of a NFC chip in the new iPhone would allow for secure transactions quickly and easily.

Would it work the same for every store?
One patent discovered by AppleInsider in 2013 “describes an e-wallet system that would provide users with “smart menus” based on the context of a transaction.” That would suggest that Apple’s mobile-payments system will eventually be equipped to offer different payment options depending on the store or retailer — so, for example, it might determine which store you’re in based on your location, and charge money to the same card you used last time you were there, or take advantage of rewards programs linked to a particular card.

How might it process payments?
Through iTunes. One patent Apple was granted in 2012 “shows us that the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account,” according to the blog Patently Apple, which tracks the company’s intellectual property news. Apple has 800 million iTunes accounts on file, most of which are linked to credit cards — that’s believed to be larger than the number of accounts on file at either Amazon or PayPal.

What credit-card companies are on board?
Bloomberg has reported that Apple has made agreements with Visa, American Express and MasterCard. The American Express news was reported earlier Sunday morning by Re/code. The Information previously reported that Apple and Visa had reached an agreement.

How do we know Apple is interested in this?
Apple has been pursuing iWallet-related patents for a few years now. Earlier this year, Apple was also looking to hire a few executives with experience in the payments industry to build “a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file,” according to Re/code. Apple CEO Tim Cook also said that there is “a lot of opportunity” with mobile payments during an earnings call in January:

“We’re seeing that people love being able to buy content, whether it’s music or movies or books, from their iPhone, using Touch ID. It’s incredibly simple and easy and elegant. And it’s clear that there’s a lot of opportunity there … The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with and that was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID. But we’re not limiting ourselves just to that.”

Who else has tried this?
The Google Wallet system allows users to store information from all kinds of cards (credit, debit, gift, loyalty) and pay stores and friends using NFC technology. PayPal also allows users to pay retailers, restaurants and more through its mobile app. In terms of hardware, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 have had NFC services. But mobile payments like these haven’t exactly become widespread. That may change as Apple’s large contingent of devoted iPhone users make a mobile-payments system more attractive to a greater number of merchants. And the fact that Apple already also has so many iTunes accounts on file means users may be more inclined to try out the service, as they may not have to go through all the steps a new service would require.

TIME

The Most Exciting Feature About the Next iPhone Is Unexpected

Here's what an iPhone screen made of sapphire would mean
Artur Debat—Moment Editorial/Getty Images

A huge change could be coming on Sept. 9

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

It’s not official, but good journalists at Wired and the Financial Times reported Thursday that Apple’s next generation of consumer devices — iPhones for sure, wearable devices maybe — will come equipped with a NFC (near field communication) chip for making mobile payments.

This is big news, in part because Apple is so late to the NFC party.

The rest of the world switched to the technology years ago. Google, Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Visa, MasterCard. It’s the way credit cards talk to banks and retailers in most of the countries of Europe and Asia.

But not in the U.S.

That’s about to change. Visa and MasterCard have set an October 2015 deadline for U.S. retailers to switch from magnetic strips to embedded chips. If Apple wants in on the game, now’s the time.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Apple

Why The Bar for Apple’s Sept. 9 Event Is Incredibly High

DOUNIAMAG-US-IT-INTERNET-APPLE-ITUNES RADIO
AFP/Getty Images

Can Apple make innovative new products without Steve Jobs at the helm? This event may answer that question once and for all

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

The invitations went out at noon on Aug. 28, confirming month-old leaks, eliminating one uncertainty and giving the stock a little boost.

Now it’s up to Apple to deliver.

The bar is high — as it always is for this company — but this time Apple’s executive team may have been hoist on its own rhetoric.

In May, senior vice president Eddy Cue described what’s coming this fall as “the best product pipeline” he has seen in 25 years, words he may regret if that pipeline is found lacking.

Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook promised that Apple would break into new categories — in other words, something beyond iPhones, iPads and Macs. Pressed by the Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayishi, Cook begged for patience in a way that only raised the bar higher:

“You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn’t really deep and, as a consequence, these things don’t do very well. We don’t do very many things so we spend a lot of time on every detail and that part of Apple isn’t changing. It’s the way we’ve operated for years and it’s the way we still operate. I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Gadgets

Watch the Evolution of Apple’s iPhone in a Single GIF

Apple; Gif by Joseph C. Lin—TIME

From 2007 to 2014

It seems like ages since Steve Jobs first announced Apple’s first iPhone in 2007. At the time, the heavy, 4GB device seemed like a technology miracle, but today it looks just a little dated compared to the iPhone’s latest iteration — and who knows what it’ll look like compared to the iPhone 6, which is just around the corner.

TIME captured the evolution of the iPhone in just a few seconds.

TIME Companies

Apple Confirms Sept. 9 Event, Likely to Debut iPhone 6

"We wish we could say more"

+ READ ARTICLE

Apple has confirmed that it is holding a press event on Sept. 9, most likely to unveil new products. The company is widely expected to debut a new version of the iPhone, and the company will reportedly offer at least one model with a larger 5.5-inch screen.

Reports also indicate that Apple may show off the long-awaited iWatch, a wearable device that would likely run on iOS.

The event will take place in the company’s hometown of Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Here’s a look at the invite:


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TIME

Why Used iPhones Are Flooding the Market

Here's the reason why

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

gazelle

The market for used iPhones is a funny thing.

It hums along steadily most of the year until, just before the launch — or, more accurately, the expected launch — of a new model, things go nuts.

This year, more than ever. A few data points:

  • According to a survey by Hanover Research, an unprecedented 48% of iPhone owners plan to trade up to whatever Apple has up its sleeve.
  • Gazelle, a leading trade-in site, saw iPhone offers peak at five per second one day last week before settling down to two per second, up 50% from last year.
  • Another site, NextWorth, saw average daily iPhone traffic jump 350% from the previous month. “That’s up from a lift of 182% last year, or almost two times the acceleration,” NextWorth’s Jeff Trachsel told Computerworld. “There’s tremendous pent-up demand for a larger iPhone.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

MONEY Tech

How to Flip Your ‘Kill Switch’ and Protect Your Smartphone from Thieves

140826_EM_KillSwitch
Nathan Alliard—Getty Images

Starting next summer, every smartphone sold in California must have an anti-theft device. Here's what you can do to safeguard yours right now.

Smartphone theft just got a whole lot less lucrative. Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring that all smartphones sold in the state include a “kill switch,” software that makes it impossible for thieves to use stolen phones.

Here’s something you may not know: Your phone could already have such a switch. Both iPhones and Samsung phones have new software that “locks” the device so that unauthorized users are unable to activate it. According to the San Francisco Police Department, the city saw a 38% drop in iPhone thefts in the six months after Apple released its kill switch. In June, Google and Microsoft promised to offer kill switch technology in their next operating systems, and for now, both offer other apps to help you protect a lost phone.

The California bill requires that tech companies make the kill switch feature standard on all phones starting July 1, 2015. In the meantime, you can enable your phone’s available security features by turning on the right settings. Here’s how.

iPhones

Do this right now: Make sure you have iOS7 software (if you haven’t already, you can download the upgrade on iTunes). Go to Settings, then iCloud, and then flip on “Find My iPhone.” If your phone gets lost, you’ll be able to track it on icloud.com.

Do this if your phone gets stolen: Go to icloud.com/find and sign in using your Apple ID and password. There, a button lets you play a sound on your iPhone to help you locate the device. You can also put the phone in “lost mode,” which gives you the option to display an alternate phone number and a message explaining that the phone has been lost, so Good Samaritans will be able to find you.

If you’re sure your phone has been stolen, erase the data. Remember that this is a last resort: Once you’ve erased your phone, you won’t be able to track it. But that way, the only way someone will be able to activate it is by entering your Apple ID and password. (And in the event that you find your phone again, you can restore the data using iCloud backup.)

Android

Do this right now: Android doesn’t have a kill switch yet, but it has still some helpful anti-theft features. Start by downloading the free “Android Device Manager.”

Do this if your phone gets stolen: Sign in to the Android Device Manager using your Google account and password. Again, you’ll be able to play a sound, track your phone, reset the screen lock PIN, and erase the data. (Remember, once you erase the data, you won’t be able to track the phone anymore.)

However, hackers may still be able to reset and reactivate the device. Expect a tougher kill switch feature in Google’s next software upgrade.

Samsung

Do this right now: If you’ve got a Samsung Android phone, you’re in luck. Go to Apps, then Settings, and then Security. Check the box next to “reactivation lock.” You’ll be prompted to either sign in to your Samsung account or create one.

Do this if your phone gets stolen: Go to findmymobile.samsung.com and log in with your Samsung account. Like “Find My iPhone,” Samsung lets you track your phone, play a sound to help you find it, and lock your device remotely.

If your phone has been jacked, the reactivation lock renders it useless. Once you’ve turned the feature on, no one can reset the device without your Samsung account and password.

Windows Phone

Do this right now: Windows phones don’t have kill switches yet either, but they do have a device tracking feature. Go to Start, then App, then Settings, and then “Find My Phone.” You can opt to save your phone’s location every few hours, which could give you a more accurate reading of its last known location if the battery dies.

Do this if your phone gets stolen: Go to windowsphone.com and sign in with your Windows Live ID. You’ll be able to track your phone, play a sound, lock your phone with a message, and erase your data.

Windows also plans to add a kill switch in the future.

TIME Apple

Here’s Exactly Why Apple Will Make an iWatch

Apple expands China business, moving beyond big cities
Xiao qiang xg—Xiao qiang xg - Imaginechina

One very qualified observer weighs in

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

 

Ironfire Capital‘s Eric Jackson achieved an admirable density of insight Monday in an e-mail exchange with Asymco‘s Horace Dediu.

“The interview is vintage Horace,” writes Jackson. “So much to think about in so few words.”

A few excerpts:

  • On sapphire: “I expect Sapphire will become a signature feature across many products. I don’t know if they will have capacity to deploy on iPhone this year but on a watch it’s essential… It’s a significant material because it allows design freedom in new directions, especially curved (concave) touch surfaces that retain a jewel-like feel. This has Jony Ive [written] all over it.”
  • On prices: “I think Apple holds a black belt in pricing. They seem to define their position in the market by anchoring certain prices and ‘owning’ them… The average selling price (ASP) I expect to remain constant on a year-long average.”
  • On the ‘iWatch’: “I will be shocked to the core if it does not run iOS. It is my opinion that making iOS work on it is the entire reason Apple is sweating this segment. They are in it because they are trying to make a platform product with a novel user experience and all the power of an ecosystem run on a wrist.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME technology

4 Ways Tim Cook Has Changed Apple as CEO

Apple Hosts Its Worldwide Developers Conference
Apple CEO Tim Cook walks off stage after speaking during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

When Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO on August 24, 2011, the company’s future was anything but certain. The tech giant had become the most valuable company in the world just weeks before, thanks to a decade’s worth of wildly successful new products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The disruptive devices were credited almost exclusively to Jobs’ genius, and consumers as well as Wall Street analysts wondered whether Tim Cook, his soft-spoken successor, could guide Apple even higher.

Fast forward three years and Cook has proved his doubters wrong. This week, he got quite the anniversary gift when Apple’s stock reached an all-time high, largely because of strong recent earnings reports and anticipation of the iPhone 6, rumored to be announced this fall. Apple’s new share price high is a sign investors are buying into Cook’s vision for the companys’ future, which looks different from Jobs’s.

Here’s a look at four ways Apple has changed during the Era of Cook.

Only Cook Could Go to China

Jobs famously never visited China during his tenure as Apple CEO—that was Cook’s job, who served as the company’s chief operating officer before Jobs stepped down. As CEO, Cook has taken a more hands-on approach in the world’s most populous country, visiting China multiple times to meet with government officials and survey Apple’s factories there. Even more important than the trips is the deal Cook inked last year with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, to carry the iPhone. His focus on the country has paid off handsomely. China is now Apple’s fastest-growing sales market by far, generating $5.9 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter.

“There is no doubt [Cook] recognizes the fact that China will become Apple’s number one market,” Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester, said in an email to TIME.

Goosing Apple’s Stock Through Share Buybacks

Investors have long clamored for Apple to make better use of its massive $160 billion cash hoard. Jobs ignored a suggestion by Warren Buffet to launch a share buyback program, but Cook has launched a massive share repurchase plan to reclaim $90 billion in company stock. Such programs make investors happy by putting cash in their pockets, while also improving a company’s financial optics by boosting its earnings per share. The share repurchase plan, which was expanded earlier this year, has helped Apple stock rally in recent months after tumbling from an all-time high in September 2012. In fact, the company’s 25% gain in stock price since purchasing $18 billion of its shares in the first quarter of the year was the best return ever following a share buyback, according to Bloomberg.

Diversifying Apple’s Core Products

Part of Apple’s financial success stems from the fact that it manufactures a relatively small slate of products that sell on a massive scale. Cook has deviated somewhat from this strategy by introducing variants on the iPad (the iPad Mini) and the iPhone (the iPhone 5c) that serve as smaller cheaper alternatives to Apple’s flagship devices. Apple doesn’t break out the sales of individual products within the iPad and iPhone lines, but according to mobile marketing firm Fiksu, the iPad Mini was the second most-used iPad as of April. More impressive than the sales is the fact that Cook has been able to keep Apple’s margins impressively high while adding new production costs.

“Jobs did a lot of the heavy lifting developing home run products such as the iPad and iPhone,” says Bill Kreher, an equity analyst at Edward Jones. “Cook has been able to extend the reach of those products, improving profitability.”

Increasing Apple’s Acquisitions and Partnerships

Apple made few acquisitions in the Jobs era, and they were generally small. Cook, on the other hand, has bought up 23 companies since taking the reins, according to Crunchbase. No buyout caused more waves than Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, which was either a smart acqui-hire of Beats’ music and marketing maestros or proof that Apple has lost its creative spark, depending on your perspective. The purchase mainly showed that Cook isn’t afraid to seek help from outside his Cupertino headquarters. For more evidence, consider Apple’s recently announced partnership with former nemesis IBM to bring a suite of enterprise apps to iOS.

Make no mistake—investors are still clamoring for Cook to release a new product disruptive as the iPhone or the iPad. Rumors persist that Apple will eventually launch an iWatch, or perhaps a pay-TV service to compete with cable. For now, though, with iPhone sales climbing ever higher and investors’ pockets being lined through a share buyback, Wall Street seems content with Apple’s trajectory.

“You have Steve Jobs, who was the innovator, the visionary,” says Kreher, “and you have Tim Cook, who is a good steward of the business and is an excellent executor.”

TIME Rumors

Don’t Count the iPhone 6’s September 9 Debut Out Yet

The new iPhone line reportedly had a backlight engineering problem that goofed up the assembly process earlier this summer.

Reuters is reporting that Apple may be having difficulty prepping a sufficient number of screens for the next iPhone. Apple is expected to unveil the new line at media event on September 9. The problem, says Reuters, involves a “key” component that’s disrupting the production of the line’s new screens, rumored to be larger than the iPhone 5’s current four inches, and possibly come in two sizes.

More specifically, Reuters’s supply chain sources say the problem is with the backlight configuration in the new phones. Apple wanted to reduce the material used for the backlight from two layers to one in hopes of thinning the phones, says Reuters. But without that second layer, the phones apparently weren’t bright enough, which forced the parts back to engineering and held up the assembly process earlier this summer. That’s now impacting the number of screens Apple’s been able to produce in the ramp up to the unveiling, according to Reuters’ sources.

How many phones amounts to a sufficient number at launch anyway? I have no idea, nor does Reuters, but the news site defangs the issue somewhat by pointing out that its sources indicated the “hiccup” may or may not make it harder for you to get one of the new phones at launch or delay the phones outright. Thus we’re left to mull the possibility that there could be a launch availability problem, but with absolutely no idea of its magnitude, on a scale that runs from “catastrophic” to “irrelevant.”

Short of actually delaying the debut, which seems unlikely at this point–rumors of a September 9 event bubbled up just a few weeks ago, well after the June/July timeframe referred to in the Reuters piece–it’s unlikely we’ll know whether this story impacted the phones’ arrival. Availability issues have been a major part of every new iPhone launch, and a certain amount of scarcity–so long as Apple’s able to ramp up production to meet or surpass its fiscal projections in the long run–isn’t the worst problem to have. Sony’s PlayStation 4, for instance, which Sony claims was plagued by supply issues from launch, has gone on to sell 10 million units worldwide, a record-breaking figure even Sony can’t explain.

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