TIME technology

Why Apple Pay May Be the Company’s Most Challenging Move Yet

For Apple Pay to work, Apple needs to get customers, retailers and banks all in lockstep

Our smartphones have already become our de facto camera, music player, navigational device and personal assistant. Now Silicon Valley wants to make them our wallet, too.

Several tech firms have spent the last few years trying to convince consumers their phone is a more convenient payment method than cash or plastic. Most shoppers have balked. But on Monday, Apple is entering the fray, and experts say that could be a turning point for the long-hyped mobile payments industry.

Apple’s service, dubbed Apple Pay, allows customers to buy goods in physical stores with a simple tap of their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch smartwatch, when that device hits shelves in early 2015. Apple Pay users load their credit card information onto the phone, then press their device’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the checkout line to authenticate the purchase. The process is faster than using a debit card — and more secure. Apple generates a unique ID number for each transaction, meaning users’ credit card data numbers are not shared with merchants.

Apple Pay is launching just as the smartphone is becoming a central point of commerce for the average shopper. Consumers spent $110 billion via their mobile devices last year, according to research firm Euromonitor, and they used their phones plenty more to research products before buying them in stores. Meanwhile, person-to-person payment apps like Venmo have made people comfortable loading their phones with dollars to make simple transactions.

“All of that is really conditioning consumers to trust their phones when it comes to payments,” says Michelle Evans, a senior consumer finance analyst at Euromonitor.

But consumers are still reluctant to give up their credit cards. Mobile payments generated $4.9 billion in sales in 2014, a paltry figure compared to the year’s $4.8 trillion in card transactions, according to Euromonitor. Google’s own mobile payments service, Google Wallet, offers much of Apple Pay’s functionality but hasn’t seen widespread adoption. Startup Square abandoned its much-hyped mobile wallet platform earlier this year, instead pivoting to an order-ahead service like Seamless. PayPal, which is spinning off from eBay in 2015, has also struggled find a mobile formula that works in stores.

“It’s definitely starting to catch on, but I don’t think anybody has quite nailed the overarching reason to pull out your phone to pay,” says Anuj Nayar, PayPal’s senior director of global initiatives.

The transition to mobile payments is a challenging one because it requires buy-in from so many different players. Consumers have to be convinced it’s worth their time to learn a new buying behavior. Retailers have to pay for new equipment so their point-of-sale systems can accept payment from phones and smartwatches. Banks and credit card issuers also have to buy in. “It’s a lot of people to get in lockstep,” says Evans.

Apple does have a few key advantages over its competitors. The company has a knack for convincing people to change their digital lifestyles, whether by downloading MP3s, surfing the web on a phone or using a large tablet to watch videos. And thanks to the iTunes Store, Apple has more than 500 million credit cards already on file. Those customers will be able to seamlessly start using the same accounts they use to buy apps and music to buy goods in the real world when they first boot up Apple Pay. “We’ve never had this large of a base in a starting country” for a mobile payment system, says Matt Dill, Visa’s senior vice president for Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Commerce and Network Payments.

However, analysts say convincing shoppers to give up credit cards, which are already fairly painless to use, will take more than just offering convenience. The most successful mobile payments platform to date is the Starbucks app, which rewards customers who pay via their phones with free drinks and other perks. Today, Starbucks processes about 15% of all its transactions on the app, or about 6 million per week.

“The customers really feel It’s not just about payments,” says Ben Straley, Starbucks’ vice president for digital products. “It’s also about being rewarded for their loyalty.”

But even if Apple can convince consumers to take their money mobile, some merchants aren’t playing ball. Wal-Mart, America’s largest retailer, won’t support Apple Pay at launch. Instead, it and other big-box stores like Best Buy are developing a competing mobile payments platform called CurrentC, set to launch sometime next year. Such merchants would have to be the driving force behind any effective loyalty rewards program that convinced shoppers to abandon their credit cards.

With so many competitors offering mobile payment options, analysts expect the segment will finally take off soon. Euromonitor projects in-store purchases via phone will rise to $74 billion by 2019 — though that’s still a far cry from the trillions in card purchases we see today. Mobile devices are already becoming a common tool for buying things in the virtual world. It could very well happen in the real world, too. “It’s just shopping, whether you’re buying it in a store or buying it online,” says PayPal’s Nayar. “The lines between what that looks like have started to disappear.”

Read next: Apple Pay Starts Monday for iPhone 6 Users

TIME technology

The Comic Sans Typewriter Is Finally Here

It's only a generation late

We’ve all had this thought: Why can’t my typewriter use the Comic Sans typeface?

Well, if you like Comic Sans, you may have had that thought, anyway. And if you have a typewriter.

But designer Jesse England seems to fit the bill. After reading a typewritten document, he realized there was nothing stopping him from giving a typewriter the most annoying font ever created. So he invented the Sincerity Machine, etching Comic Sans letters with a laser engraver and gluing them onto a 1970s Brother Charger 11 typewriter.

England is sympathetic to the font. “While making it, I thought a lot about the Comic Sans typeface and how ridiculed it is. But it is also a mark of sincerity for those who do not have graphic design experience. I’m not particularly enamored with this font, but I don’t think it deserves the flak it gets.”

TIME apps

Flickr Finally Made an iPad App

iPad users can ditch Flickr's mobile website

Flickr is now offering an app for iPad, parent company Yahoo announced Saturday.

Flickr on the Apple iPad Flickr/App Store

The first iPad-ready app fir the photo sharing service, it offers iPad-optimized layouts and live filters to improve photos and videos. Designed for Apple’s new iOS 8, the app also has a new search function that Flickr says makes it easier for users to search through their library.

Previously, iPad users had to use Flickr’s mobile website, which offered an often less than stellar photo-browsing experience. Flickr already has an iPhone-specific app.

The Flickr for iPad app is available for a free download in the App Store.

TIME Apple

It’s Time to Seriously Start Expecting an Apple TV Again

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Images by Fabio—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Everything finally looks like it is falling into place

Apple’s Oct. 16 “It’s been way too long” event was supposed to be all about updating products that hadn’t been refreshed in a while. And it was. The Cupertino, Calif. company unveiled svelte new iPads, an ultra-high-resolution version of the iMac, an updated Mac mini, and a slew of software and service updates. CEO Tim Cook also said that a software development kit to help programmers make applications for the company’s upcoming smartwatch would be available in November, ahead of the much-anticipated device’s 2015 debut.

About ten minutes into his opening remarks, Cook put up an evolution of man-style slide showing Apple’s line of products, from the Watch through iPhone and iPad, laptops and desktops. (Scrub to 10:00 here to see it.) One could easily imagine the same slide with an additional product on the far right: a television. That is a rumor that has been around for so long, that it’s frankly grown tedious to think or talk about. Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson before he died that he’d long wanted to make a TV and had “finally cracked” the difficulty of creating a simple user interface. And, earlier this year, Cook told Charlie Rose that television “is one of those things that if we’re really honest is stuck back in the 70s…this is an area we continue to look at.” (It’s also a product Apple already made, sort of, in the early 1990s.)

What’s changed is that television is more ripe for disruption as the ecosystem of companies around it—cable providers, content creators—try to position themselves for the future. And, arguably, Apple’s clout and ability to disrupt TV is greater than ever. A number of developments in the last couple of weeks have given the idea of an Apple television set renewed luster. Consider that:

Apple has the display. The television-making business is no picnic; just ask Sony, which has lost nearly $8 billion in the last decade on TV’s alone. But the new iMac’s display—which has an extremely high resolution—is the kind of game-changer that consumers might be willing to spend more for.

Apple is calling the display a Retina 5K screen. The high-end 27‑inch iMac has four times as many pixels as the regular 27‑inch iMac display, some 14.7 million pixels. The company created its own timing controller to drive all those pixels and is using a new type of screen technology, an oxide TFT-based panel, to deliver extra brightness.

Cable companies are starting to unravel. Two back-to-back announcements this week suggest the television content business is starting to change. This had been Apple’s biggest obstacle to creating a television device with a radically better way of watching stuff. As my colleague Victor Luckerson put it earlier this week:

By making these channels available for purchase individually, CBS and HBO are embracing the “a la carte” TV model, in which viewers would be able to select the individual channels they want to pay for and ignore the rest. It’s a concept that makes intuitive sense in a world where songs, movies, books and news can be consumed individually, on the go and at little cost. But the model poses a huge threat to cable operators, network owners and even subscribers. If every network did what CBS and HBO are doing, cable and satellite operators would have the core part of their businesses wiped out.

HomeKit is the new “digital hub.” In 2001, Jobs organized the then-struggling company around a new strategy. The computer would become the hub for consumers’ various devices, cameras, music players, video recorders, et cetera. It worked. Today, Apple is working on HomeKit, a framework that lets the company’s devices control smart gadgets around your house. (For more on the smart home, read all of this special TIME issue.) One of a future Apple television’s killer features could be acting as a central nervous system for all the wired lightbulbs, thermostats and so on in your house.

Consumers want it. The current product called Apple TV, a $99 set-top box that can pipe in streaming content from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and other digital service providers, was denigrated as a “hobby” product by Steve Jobs in 2007. Last month, Cook said the device had gone far beyond that status and has some 20 million users.

And finally, Tim Cook’s Apple is ready. The company has shown it is willing to sign the death warrant for technologies it no longer finds useful. Not to mention place big bets in brand new areas where its success is far from guaranteed. Cook said this was “the strongest lineup of products Apple has ever had and soon you can wear that technology right on your wrist.” I wouldn’t be surprised to find that amended to add the center of the living room.

TIME apps

Ads Are Coming to Snapchat for the First Time

Viewing the ads will be optional

Snapchat users will see ads on the messaging app starting this weekend, the social media company announced Friday.

“Understandably, a lot of folks want to know why we’re introducing advertisements to our service. The answer is probably unsurprising—we need to make money,” the company said in a blog post. “Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters.”

The company promised the ads wouldn’t display in people’s messages. “That would be totally rude,” Snapchat said. Instead, users will be able to choose whether to view the ads.

TIME Companies

Apple Doesn’t Sell Bose Headphones Anymore

Apple Posts Record Quarterly Earnings
Six-year-old Emma Cordell listens to a new iPod on display at the Apple Store July 14, 2005 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

In the competition between headphone makers Beats and Bose, actions may speaker louder than words

Apple has stopped selling Bose headphones and speakers at its Apple Stores, nearly five months after agreeing to buy one of the company’s main competitors, Beats Electronics.

Bose merchandise is now unavailable at the Apple Online Store, and 9to5Mac reported that Apple Retail stores no longer have Bose inventory available.

Bose and Beats, the latter of which was founded by rapper Dr. Dre and acquired this year by Apple for $3 billion, sell similar technology in a comparable price range. The two companies have had an often acrimonious relationship — Beats settled a patent dispute with Bose out of court last week. The NFL is sponsored by Bose, and several players have been fined for wearing Beats at NFL games and other league-related events.

Apple still sells competing headphone brands like Sennheiser and Urbanears, so its exclusion of Bose’s merchandise may be a pointed jab.

TIME Retail

Amazon Will Start Delivering Fresh Groceries in New York Today

Amazon Expands Grocery Delivery Service To Los Angeles Area
An Amazon Fresh truck arrives at a warehouse on June 27, 2013 in Inglewood, California. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Park Slope, Brooklyn residents now have another option for getting fresh groceries delivered to their door

Amazon publishes books, builds smartphones, distributes videos, and produces television shows, not to mention its core business: it sells almost everything. Now, the company is launching its grocery delivery business on the East Coast for the first time on Friday, when it begins delivering food to customers in New York City in an effort to break into the grocery delivery market.

Amazon’s service, called AmazonFresh, promises same-day grocery delivery to customers in New York as long as orders are placed before 10 am, Re/code reports. AmazonFresh will currently deliver only to Park Slope residents, targeting upper middle class families in the Brooklyn neighborhood where there’s sure to be a high concentration of avid Amazon acolytes.

For now, the program is only available to New Yorkers who are members of Amazon’s $99-per-year Prime program, which allows customers to buy pretty much anything from Amazon for free on a two-day delivery. The service has already been operating in Seattle and a few metro areas in California.

How successful will AmazonFresh be? The company is competing against a local online grocer in New York, FreshDirect — which already has a well-established foothold in the city — as well as startups like Instacart. And the grocery business often operates at low profit margins. But if AmazonFresh gets customers to start ordering, it could boost its same-day delivery business to include higher-margin goods.

Read next: 3 Reasons Google’s Same-Day Shipping Looks Like a Game Changer

TIME Gadgets

Android 5.0 Lollipop: What’s New and When Can You Get It?

The next sweeping overhaul of Android — Android 5.0 Lollipop — is just around the bend. Here’s a look at some of its most notable additions, along with some insight as to when you might be able to get your hands on it.

What’s New?

Android 5 Lollipop
Google

The most noticeable difference is the overall look and feel of the operating system. Google’s using what it calls “Material Design,” making extensive use of animations and layered elements to deliver what the company promises is a more intuitive experience.

In layman’s terms, let’s just say there’s more swooping and sliding. And you’ll notice a more uniform design across Android devices in general — phones, tablets, watches, TV gadgets, car audio systems and more. If you have multiple Android gadgets, they’ll work together more harmoniously than before.

You can see a bit of how Material Design looks up until about the 30-second mark of this video:

Battery life should be an improvement. Developers will be able to better fine-tune their apps so they don’t use as much juice, and there’s a new power-saving mode that lets you squeeze up to 90 extra minutes out of your phone if you can’t find an outlet. When you get around to charging your phone, it’ll tell you how long it’ll be until it’s at 100%.

Security gets beefed up as well, with encryption turned on by default to prevent data from being accessed on lost or stolen devices. (Authorities aren’t too happy about this.) Note that you can turn encryption on yourself if you’re running an earlier version of Android. Here’s how (follow up until the part about resetting your phone). For an extra layer of security, you’ll be able to unlock your phone or tablet only when it’s in proximity to your Android smartwatch.

There are also some cool new multi-user features, like being able to use a friend’s phone in guest mode. And if you log in with your Google credentials, you’ll be able to make calls and access your messages, photos and other data as though you were using your own phone.

Notifications also get a much-needed overhaul. They’ll now be ranked and presented based on priority. Ideally, messages from people you want to hear from will be most prominent, while some obscure app telling you it’s been updated won’t get as much screen time. You’ll be able to finesse how often you’re notified with a new “priority” mode that’ll only let certain people contact you or will let you turn off notifications altogether between certain hours.

On newer phones, you’ll enjoy fewer button presses. If the hardware supports it, you’ll be able to say “Okay, Google” to wake the phone up to help you search for something or set reminders without touching it. Some phones will simply wake up when you pick them up or double-tap the screen.

You can see a more complete list of features here; scroll down to the bottom and click the “See All Features” link.

When Can I Get It?

It depends on your device and your carrier. Google’s “Nexus”-branded devices (Nexus 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10) will have access to Android 5.0 sometime in November. Certain “Google Play edition” devices (the HTC One M8 and the Moto G, almost certainly) should see the update around the same time. The new Nexus 9 tablet is the only device with a firm date — November 3; the big-screen Nexus 6 smartphone is due “in stores in November,” says Google.

The official word is as follows:

Android 5.0 Lollipop, which comes on Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, will also be available on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

After that, things get even murkier. Dan Graziano over at CNET has a roundup of moving-targets HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony, so keep an eye on that post as it’s to be updated as things progress.

As for whether or not your device is eligible to get Android 5.0, there’s a loose 18-month window for certain Android devices. Google’s official word: “Devices may not receive the latest version of Android if they fall outside of the update window, traditionally around 18 months after a device release.” And that’s only for Nexus and Google Play devices; check with your carrier to see if they can shed any light on your situation. If you’ve had your phone for more than a year, you might be on the fence depending when the phone was initially released.

TIME

Here’s What’s Coming in PlayStation 4 System Software Version 2.0

Sony

Sony lays out a slew of new features in its upcoming overhaul of the PlayStation 4's dashboard.

Companies usually save their big guns for major number turnovers, because that’s what we’ve come to expect after a lot of this-point-that integer creep (unless you’re Apple, anyway, at which point you shift from subsets of the number 10 to big cats to surfer hangouts to national parks).

Sony has a name for its upcoming major PlayStation 4 operating system overhaul. It’s called “Masamune,” after a widely acclaimed Japanese late 13th/early 14th century swordsmith. And yes, that is a little audacious, but then the update sounds fairly ambitious.

Version 2.0 will bring Themes, a dedicated YouTube app and something Sony calls “Share Play”: a way to play local co-op with friends on other systems, which sounds just like ordinary co-op, and is, except that you need only a single copy of the game between the two of you. The idea seems less about saving people money than creating quick-help scenarios, say you’re stuck and need a hand, or want someone to actually take over your controller and drive. Call it “Help Play.”

But we’ve known about that stuff since August. Yesterday, Sony announced a bunch of additional features, one of which involves rejiggering the way your console handles content in the menu, another that shows you “players you may know,” the option to listen to your music while playing a game (off a USB device, with support for MP3, MP4, M4A and 3GP formats), new voice commands, some new live broadcasting channels and filters, and the option to change the dash’s background color (weirdly absent at launch, so more of a catching-up thing ).

Of them all, I’m most intrigued by the content area change. Here’s Sony’s bulleted breakout:

PS4’s Content Area, which shows the latest games and apps a PS4 owner has used, has been redesigned to help make it easier to quickly find and access content. It now shows 15 of a player’s most used apps or games, and additional items will be added to a player’s Library. The Library on PS4 has improved filter and sort functions to help organize contented by type (game / app / TV & video), name (a – z or z – a), recently used, or install date.

That’s the one I’m most excited about, if I’m parsing what Sony’s saying correctly and it’s going to shorten the left-right scroll sprawl. I don’t mind the way content stacks now in one super-long line that grows with each new game you play, but I’d say I’ve visited the tail end of that line maybe a handful of times since the system launched. Not seeing stuff you’re not sure you need, or only rarely use, is roughly analogous to it not being there.

We’re still in the dark on Masamune’s release date, but it’s supposed to drop “later this fall,” technically giving Sony until December 21.

TIME Gadgets

5 Gadgets That Will Help You Sleep Better

If you wish you could get a better night’s sleep, you’re not alone. Sleep experts say adults should try to get seven to eight hours per night.

Of course, not all of us do – according to Gallup, 26% of us get six hours of sleep a night and another 14% get five hours or less. And it affects how well we can concentrate during the day, how well we can remember things and puts us at greater risk for automobile accidents. Is it any wonder that the U.S. Center for Disease Control has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic?

Serious sleep problems still require the services of a trained doctor. But for smaller issues – off-sync sleep schedules, difficulty waking up and challenges falling asleep – modern technology may be able to help. Here are five of Techlicious’s picks for the best sleep gadgets available.

Misfit Beddit

misfit-beddit-on-bed-510px
Misfit

The Misfit Beddit is one of the easiest ways to turn your existing bed into a “smart” bed. It’s a thin sensor pad that lays flat under your sheets to measure your movement throughout the night. It tracks the stages of sleep, sleep duration, wake times, heartrate and snoring (by monitoring ambient sound), sending this data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The included app can play soothing sounds to help you sleep at night, and can be programmed to wake you up when you’re in your lightest stage of sleep in the morning. This helps make sure you’re refreshed when you get out of bed, not groggy.

The Misfit Beddit is available in your choice of black and white color. The accompanying app is currently Apple iOS only, though Misfit promises Android support is coming soon. You can currently pick one up through Amazon.com for $149.99.

Withings Aura

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Withings

Like the Misfit Beddit, the Withings Aura includes a small in-bed sensor pad that tracks sleep stages, duration, number of wake ups and more, and can be programmed to wake you up during a cycle of light sleep. But the Aura also includes a bedside device that’s designed to give off a gentle glow of light that helps you wake up and get to sleep by promoting healthy levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. It also measures sound and light pollution in your room so you can see how these factors are impacting your sleep. And because it’s likely to take up a lot of space on your bedside table, the light also doubles as a clock with speakers and a USB port for charging your phone.

These added features don’t come cheap, however. The Withings Aura will set you back $299.95 on Amazon, more than twice the price of the Beddit. The accompanying app is currently only for Apple iOS; an Android version is “coming soon.”

LifeTrak Brite R450

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LifeTrak

Between the Fitbit, Misfit Flash, Jawbone UP and Basis, there’s no shortage of wearables out there that can track sleep. But the new LifeTrak Brite R450 stands out in the crowd. It includes the expected sleep tracking features (including smart wake-up based on real-time data) and adds a light sensor. That way, you can know whether your body needs more (or less) natural light to promote sound sleep. You get a ton of exercise monitoring features too, including step counting, calories burned, heart rate and distance. The Brite R450 can even get incoming SMS and call notifications from your phone via a Bluetooth connection.

The LifeTrak Brite is currently available for pre-order for $129.99 through lifetrakusa.com and is expected to ship in two to three weeks. The device is available in your choice of three color schemes including white/orchid, black/freesia (yellow) and black/platinum. The included tracking app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

ResMed S+

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ResMed

The ResMed S+ is a contactless sleep sensor. Rather than slipping under your sheets, it instead measures in-bed movement at your bedside. The S+ also keeps tabs on your breathing, ambient light and noise, and temperature to make recommendations that might improve your sleep (e.g., “sleep on your left side”). Data about sleep cycles, duration and wake-ups are synced to your iOS or Android device by Bluetooth; the included app will then score your sleep on a 0 to 100 scale so you can see how you compare to others. Another cool feature: The ResMed S+ can also play soothing sounds that are synchronized to your breathing to help you get to sleep quicker.

The S+ by ResMed is currently available for sale through the company’s mysplus.com website. It’s currently being sold for “3 monthly payments of $49.95” ($149.85 in total) with a 30-day money back guarantee. The S+ app is compatible with any Apple device running iOS 8 and with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4.

SleepRate

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SleepRate

SleepRate itself isn’t a gadget: It’s billed as a sleep improvement kit. The system requires you to wear a chest-mounted Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor (uncomfortable, but included), as it uses heart-rate data to track sleep stages, duration, wake times and quality. This information is then used to create a custom-tailored four- to eight-week treatment plan licensed from Stanford University to adjust your sleep times, calibrate your biological clock and find the right conditions for the perfect night’s sleep.

The SleepRate Sleep Improvement Kit is currently available on Amazon.com for $99.95. The included app is currently iOS only.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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