TIME Gadgets

GoPro Just Announced the Cheap Tiny Camera You’ve Been Waiting For

GoPro Hero
GoPro Hero GoPro

The GoPro Hero is just $129

Many casual photographers have been wanting to dip their toes into the GoPro water for some time, but have found the company’s tiny but high-quality cameras too expensive to make the leap at upwards of $200, with the top models costing as much as $500.

But now they can go ahead and jump in; GoPro just announced the “Hero,” a scaled-back, entry-level model that’s perfect for first-time GoPro-ers who don’t need the top-of-the-line features found in GoPro’s flagship cameras. And the cost? Only $129.

Here’s what the Hero features:

  • 1080p video at 30fps
  • 720p video at 60fps
  • 5MP stills at up to five frames a second
  • QuickCapture and Burst Photo modes
  • Wide-angle lens for getting more in your shots
  • Integrated waterproof housing that keeps your Hero dry to an advertised 131 feet

Those features don’t hold up to GoPro’s absolute newest models, which pack ultra high-def 4K video modes. But if you don’t need crazy-high-def video capabilities, the Hero looks pretty great.

Interestingly, GoPro’s entry-level Hero comes at a pretty terrible time for Polaroid — yes, Polaroid — which just dropped a $99 entry-level GoPro competitor called the Polaroid Cube.

While the Cube is a bit cheaper, GoPro’s been building these tiny cameras for a long time, and they come with the benefit of access to GoPro’s immense ecosystem. With the Hero, GoPro is set to nip Polaroid’s cubed competition in the bud before it ever takes root.

TIME Video Games

Pokémon TCG, Nintendo’s First Affiliate iOS Game, Is Finally Here

Gamepad-fiddly platformers like Super Mario Bros. will never make sense on flat touchscreens, but card games like Nintendo's Pokémon TCG or Blizzard's Hearthstone seem like no-brainers.

Drop the word “Pokémon” into Apple’s or Google’s app stores (no need for the diacritical “e”) and you’ll unearth all sorts of odd-sounding concoctions, most of them creature-making tools or field guide paeans to Nintendo’s cutesy media franchise about a world full of exotic monster-pets you can catch and train to do your tactical bidding.

For years, Pokémon on smartphones and tablets has been a strictly fan affair, a cosmology of unofficial encyclopedias and builders, trivia games and wallpaper libraries. But all of those were unvarnished adjuncts compared to the wealth of games, cards, books and movies that swim in officially licensed waters.

Today everything changes: a Pokémon game is finally available on Apple devices. And not a port of one of the color-and-gem-obsessed Pokémon roleplaying games for Nintendo’s handhelds, but a translation 0f something that’s been around for as long as Pokémon itself.

When Pokémon Trading Card Game, or Pokémon TCG launched in 1996 as a physical card game (the same year Satoshi Tajiri launched the series with Game Boy games Pokémon Red and Blue), Patrick Stewart was squaring off with Alice Krige’s Borg, the original Beverly Hills 90210 was just past its halfway point, Sega’s barely one-year-old Saturn was staring down the headlamps from Nintendo’s oncoming N64 train, and Apple’s Bandai Pippin game system no one remembers arrived (and promptly disappeared).

After a run that’s approaching two decades and some publisher deck-chair rearranging, the partly Nintendo-owned property (via its The Pokémon Company International–a Nintendo affiliate) has gone where pundits have been claiming Nintendo needed to for years: Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini.

The Pokémon Company International says the new Pokémon TCG app is free-to-play, so gratis to download and get started. New players begin with a few freebie digital decks and can earn additional ones by winning battles–a little like Blizzard’s Hearthstone, in other words: play casually for nothing, but if you want to play competitively against other Pokémon sharks, you’ll probably have to spend money at some point. There’s also a cross-media incentive: If you buy physical Pokémon TCG products, you’ll get a code that unlocks their digital counterparts.

Pokémon TCG for the iPad and iPad Mini should feel familiar to OS X and Windows players, who’ve had access to it as a downloadable game since April 2011, says The Pokémon Company International. Who you are and how well you’re doing transfers cross-platform, too, so there’s no need to manage separate accounts. All the key PC game features–tutorials, online battles against the computer or other players, deck-building, trading cards, customizing avatars and so forth–are present in the iPad versions, adds The Pokémon Company International.

I’m not sure when the company plans to bring the game to Android devices, but given how vast the Android-verse is, it stands to reason such a version’s inevitable.

So is this Nintendo (directly or indirectly) reneging on past statements about not putting Nintendo games on non-Nintendo devices?

Not really. Nintendo can plausibly claim The Pokémon Company–“founded and affiliated with Nintendo”–is something rather different from the video game empire its design luminaries (like Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka and Eiji Aonuma) built.

In fact, you could argue Pokémon TCG is just Nintendo president Satoru Iwata (again, directly or indirectly) putting paid to a statement made earlier this year, when he said he wasn’t ruling out the possibility of creating games–even ones that use Nintendo characters–on smart devices, then added, “It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, so I would encourage you to see how our approach yields results.”

TIME Companies

eBay to Spin Off PayPal

The eBay headquarters seen in San Jose, Calif., in 2011.
The eBay headquarters seen in San Jose, Calif., in 2011 David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Activist investor Carl Icahn had pushed for the online marketplace to split

EBay has unveiled a plan to separate the company’s namesake company and its PayPal business, creating two independent publicly-traded companies next year — a separation that activist investor Carl Icahn called for earlier this year.

The move, which is expected to result in a tax-free spin off to be completed in the second half of 2015, will allow the separated businesses to focus more on their distinct core competencies: e-commerce and payments. EBay 6.68% said the businesses have mutually benefited as one company for “more than a decade,” but that a strategic review conducted by the company’s board showed that “keeping eBay and PayPal together beyond 2015 clearly become less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively.”


“The industry landscape is changing, and each business faces different competitive opportunities and challenges,” said eBay’s President and CEO John Donahoe. In aseparate statement, eBay said American Express 0.03% executive Dan Schulman would join PayPal as its new president effective immediately, and would become CEO of that business at the time of its spinoff.

Donahoe and Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan intend to lead the separation of the businesses though neither will have an executive management role at either of the new companies. They are expected to serve on one or both of the boards of directors, eBay said. Executives Devin Wenig (currently president of eBay Marketplaces) and Scott Schenkel (CFO of eBay Marketplaces) will become CEO and CFO, respectively, of the new eBay.

Earlier this year, Fortune’s JP Mangalindan spoke with eBay’s John Donahoe about Icahn and eBay’s stock price.

Icahn, who had called for a breakup at eBay in January of this year, ultimately conceded his fight after being given a board member. But as Fortune reported last month, if eBay were to go forward with a PayPal spinout in 2015, it would be considered an admission that Icahn had been right all along.

EBay’s move is lifting shares in premarket trading, raising the value of Icahn’s 2.5% stake in the company by nearly $130 million.

The eBay business is slightly larger, generating about $9.9 billion in revenue versus the $7.2 billion generated by PayPal. But the payments business is growing faster, reporting 19% revenue growth, better than eBay’s 10%. Segment margins are higher at eBay, while PayPal has a slightly larger active user count.

Earlier this year, Fortune’s JP Mangalindan spoke at length with eBay’s John Donahoe about Carl Icahn, eBay’s stock price and the outlook for the company.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Is Just an ‘Ad Platform,’ Says CEO of Ad-Free Social Network ‘Ello’

US-IT-INTERNET-MEDIA-ELLO
The Ello website is seen on the monitor screen September 27, 2014 in Washington D.C. PAUL J. RICHARDS—AFP/Getty Images

"We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network."

Ello, an ad-free, invitation-only social network, has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” after its August launch, but even that characterization might be giving Facebook too much credit, according to Ello’s feisty CEO.

“We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor,” said Paul Budnitz in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network.”

That was just the opening shot in a wide ranging interview in which Budnitz opened fire on Facebook’s design, content and ad-based business model. Budnitz says that Ello can turn a profit by selling add-on features directly to a few users.

He claims to have tapped into a wellspring of discontent with Facebook, signing up users at a rate of 50,000 an hour after Ello suddenly skyrocketed in popularity last week. That’s just a drop in bucket compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion users, but Ello’s CEO insists that he only wants the users who share his team’s vision of what a social network should and should not be. The site requires users to agree to a manifesto that states, “You are not a product.” Those who select “disagree” are redirected to Facebook’s website.

[Bloomberg Businessweek]

TIME Companies

No, Snapchat Hasn’t Been Hacked

But that doesn’t mean you won’t get annoying weight loss spam from your friends

Snapchat denied being hacked after some users reported receiving spam messages from their friends advertising a weight loss site.

The ephemeral messaging service told the BBC that it believed that user login data was taken from other sites and used to access Snapchat.

“We recommend using a unique and complex password to access your Snapchat account,” the company told the BBC.

According to the BBC, the spam is sent to all of the contacts on an affected user’s account. Snapchat informs those users of the breach–and recommends that they change their passwords–when they log on.

In January, the company was targeted by hackers who took 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers and released the personal data on the web–with the last two figures of the phone numbers redacted. The hackers said they were raising awareness about Snapchat security concerns.

[BBC]

TIME Video Games

12 Fascinating Indie and Lower-Profile Games to Watch This Fall

A collection of some of the fall's most intriguing games you might or might not know about.

Welcome to our followup to the “biggest games of fall 2014” list, but don’t read the title designations “indie” or “lower-profile” as secondary in any way. In fact, several of the games in this spread sound vastly more intriguing than anything else out this season.

As before, keeping to my requirement that games on these lists have actual release dates, I’ve had to leave off a few I might otherwise have included, notably This War of Mine (still listed as Q4 2014).

  • The Long Dark

    A first-person survival simulation set somewhere in the “Northern wilderness” after a global disaster that knocks out the power, The Long Dark taps into that almost primordial fear of being stuck in the middle of cold, dead, godforsaken nowhere, the day fading to dusk and then blackness, the raw elements (and your hierarchy of human needs) scraping at the door. Food and water are in short supply, and you’re not completely alone: there’s the wildlife to consider, and then you’ll wind up bumping into other survivors, resorting, one assumes, to the kinds of disquieting things survivors do.

    The version I’m talking about here won’t be final, fair warning: it’s part of Steam’s Early Access program, whereby you swap money with the developer in exchange for a chance to peek at the game in the throes of development, absent some of its release features.

    September 22 / OS X, Windows

  • Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments

    Arthur Conan Doyle meets Dostoyevsky, figuratively speaking, in this latest Sherlock Holmes-ian meta-fictive mashup from Focus Home Interactive. It’s a contemporary adventure game with an adventure game’s more sedate pace, yes, but don’t let that dissuade you: developer Frogwares’ past work on this off-kilter series–a Cthulhu mystery (The Awakened) and chance to square off against Jack the Ripper (Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper)–were very well received.

    September 30 / PlayStation 3 & 4, Windows, Xbox 360 and One

  • Costume Quest 2

    Studio Double Fine and founder Tim Schafer’s sequel to 2010’s generally well-liked trick-or-treat sim (a.k.a. “spooky roleplaying game”) adds “new costumes, features and gameplay,” but since Double Fine doesn’t specify what any of that means, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s mostly Costume Quest redux, not a radical makeover.

    October 7 / Linux, OS X, PlayStation 3 & 4, Windows Wii U, Xbox 360 & One

  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

    Before Nic Pizzolatto’s Rust Cohle and Marty Hart scrutinized ritualistic murders, we had insouciant horror novelist-turned-snoop Gabriel Knight.

    Creator Jane Jensen’s groundbreaking adventure game returns under her guidance for a 20th anniversary edition, with remastered backdrops and characters, re-orchestrated music, new puzzles and a fresh stable of voice actors. Barring technical issues or quibbles with the new voice actors (I’m going to miss Tim Curry as Gabe and Mark Hamill as Mosely), this should be a treat while we’re waiting for Jensen’s planned continuation of the series.

    Sins of the Fathers was a mammoth storytelling leap forward in 1993. Never mind King’s Quest or Quest for Glory or Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight is the series Sierra deserves to be remembered for, and if you’re too young to remember it yourself, here’s your chance to see why.

    October 15 / OS X, Windows

  • Fantasy Life

    We celebrate Japanese studio Level-5 for games like Dark Cloud 2, Dragon Quest VIII and the Professor Layton series, but they’ve had a few fantasy misses, namely the White Knight Chronicles games. It’s thus hard to know what to make of Fantasy Life, an older 2012 3DS game just now seeing light of day in the West.

    On paper, it’s an Animal Crossing-like roleplaying mashup that has you partaking in the mundane (crafting, fishing, mining) as well as the fantastic (casting, battling, exploring). Japanese and Western audience reactions don’t always align, but the game fared reasonably well with Japanese tastemaker Famitsu (35 out of 40), and sold over a quarter of a million copies.

    October 24 / 3DS

  • Freedom Wars

    One of the season’s rare PS Vita-only games, Freedom Wars is a third-person action/strategy shooter set in our pollution-choked, resource-starved future, where prisoners from penal colonies square off over what’s left in hopes of reducing their sentences.

    Fight alongside androids you can deploy as tactical aids and play with up to eight players cooperatively as you work to conquer Japan’s prefectures (called “panopticons” in the game) to secure resources and climb the leaderboards.

    October 28 / PS Vita

  • Farming Simulator 15

    Wait, you’re saying. Farming Simulator 15? They’ve made 14 versions of a game about growing crops, raising livestock and trundling around in a tractor?

    Just five, actually, counting this one, and those are corresponding release years, not serial enumerations. But yes, it’s a farming simulator, which sounds as riveting as simulation ideas like “Watching Paint Dry” or “Cleaning Your Cuticles.” Then again, sometimes humdrum-sounding games are more than the sum of our assumptions.

    Plus, Farming Simulator 15 looks kind of incredible in the trailers (the Crysis series has nothing on this thing). You’re getting wood-cutting (forestry), several new brands, a new Nordic environment and “wash stations” to play with.

    October 30 / Windows

  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

    This hard-to-categorize (kinda-sorta roguelike) game that touches on controversial topics including, in the developer’s own words, “child abuse, gender identity, infanticide, neglect, suicide, abortion, and how religion might negatively affect a child,” gets a remake and hops to consoles (the original version was for PCs only).

    New to the game: it’s rendered as a 16-bit visual tribute, includes two-player cooperative play, new music (with remixes of the original’s tunes), new playable characters, fleshed out content (more items, room and enemies), plus the Wrath of the Lamb expansion as well as a new finale and epilogue.

    November 4 / Linux, OS X, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Windows

  • Tales of Hearts R

    Another rare PS Vita exclusive, Tales of Hearts R is a remake of original 3DS game Tales of Hearts, the eleventh entry in Bandai Namco’s Tales series. Like all Tales installments, it’s premised on story-heavy roleplaying, and tweaks the series’ action-oriented battle system slightly: in this case, adding the option to “chase” and combo-attack an enemy after knocking them skyward, thus the designation “Aerial Chase Linear Motion Battle System.”

    November 11 / PS Vita

  • Never Alone

    A puzzle-platformer in which you alternate between Nuna, an Iñupiaq girl (Alaskan Inuit), and her arctic fox, grappling with the ramifications of a perpetual blizzard. The game’s developers say Never Alone is in part about reflecting on the passage of wisdom from generation to generation by way of Alaskan stories, several of which appear over the course of the game.

    Never Alone was also designed with the assistance of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, a non-profit Alaskan advocacy group that works with eight federally recognized tribes in the Cook Inlet region (Alaska’s most densely populated area), and a portion of the game’s sales will apparently go toward funding the CITC’s education-related activities.

    November 18 / PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One

  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

    Subtract all the really, really, really long-winded storytelling and passive explorations in the Persona games, and you wind up with something like Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, a.k.a. mostly the dungeon-crawling stuff.

    In Persona Q, you can still poke around a Japanese high school (and listen to pretty bad, if endearing, J-pop). But the lion’s share of your time’s going to be spent navigating the game’s eponymous labyrinth, fighting with up to five characters against shadow enemies, manipulating a combat system reminiscent of the Etrian Odyssey roleplaying series, but with Persona-related quirks.

    November 25 / 3DS

  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

    With all the attention of Crystal Dynamics’ acclaimed Tomb Raider reboot, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the Tomb Raider series’ comeback actually started several years earlier with the studio’s cooperative-angled platformer, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

    Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris revisits Crystal Dynamics’ isometric approach to Lara’s archaeological adventures, whisking the intrepid globetrotter off to Egypt, where she’ll do the usual things–explore, fight, solve puzzles, avoid traps–on the way to a showdown with the Egyptian god of storms and violence, Set.

    December 9 / PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One

TIME How-To

Mobile Payments: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We use our smartphones in place of maps, health trackers and cameras, so why not use them to replace our credit cards, too? It’s not like Americans don’t already choose their smartphones when it’s time to shop and bank online.

Yet a 2013 survey from financial services company TSYS (PDF) found that just 6% of Americans valued being able to use their card or cash via a smartphone virtual wallet.

Consumers seem comfortable with credit cards, whether they’re signing a receipt, entering a PIN or waving the card at a contactless payment terminal, and they see little perceived extra value in using smartphones to pay in stores, asserts Rajesh Kandaswamy, an analyst at information technology research and advisory firm Gartner. “Consumers need an incentive to move to mobile payments,” he says. And Softcard mobile payment app (formerly Isis) does that, offering a dollar off every purchase you make with an American Express Serve card (up to 50 transactions).

The upcoming launch of Apple Pay will also help. The app will download automatically in October as part of an update to iOS 8 for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and it works with American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards.

“Given that Apple already stores millions of customers’ financial info in iTunes, Apple Pay is likely to be a catalyst for higher adoption of the smartphone wallet because it reduces the efforts of millions to even try mobile payments,” Kandaswamy says.

Apple Pay is also supported by major banks, including Bank of America, Chase and Citi. These big banks are unlikely to spike the cost of processing Apple Pay transactions versus credit card transactions, giving more merchants more incentive to make the service available to their customers.

Why switch to a smartphone wallet

A mobile wallet app offers a better way to manage payment cards, from debit and credit cards to discount vouchers and loyalty vouchers, Kandaswamy says. “A mobile wallet app can also offer better control over finances, in the sense that you have a single place to examine and analyze your purchases,” he says.

Paying with your smartphone can speed up the checkout process. Instead of rifling through your wallet (and possibly realizing you forgot to bring a card at all), simply tap your smartphone on a payment terminal to authorize a transaction and simultaneously apply discounts or loyalty points.

How the money moves

Most current smartphone wallet apps with a tap-to-pay feature require a phone with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip to work. For iPhones, that means the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Most Android phones that run Android 4.0 or newer are NFC-compatible, although some apps require a special, extra-secure SIM for storing financial information. Check with your carrier to see if your Android phone is e-wallet-friendly.

If you use a Windows Phone or BlackBerry device, you’re facing a wait. Microsoft recently announced Wallet for Windows Phone for storing credit cards, loyalty cards, vouchers and tickets, but the app’s tap-to-pay functionality isn’t yet supported by any Windows Phone devices. And although Visa approved the BlackBerry mobile payment framework last year, we have yet to see any official launch of a wallet app.

But the mobile payments game is heating up. Retail giant Wal-Mart has announced that it’s piloting its own mobile payments system, along with several other large brands. Current C, which will work on any smartphone, won’t launch until next year.

The apps to consider

For now, Android and iPhone owners can turn their smartphones into lean, mean paying machines with one of these apps:

apple-iphone-6-apple-pay-510px
Apple

Apple Pay

Apple Pay will be available in October for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as for the Apple Watch when it launches next year. Apple Pay holds credit and debit cards, and iTunes users can automatically link the credit card they already have on file. Once you’ve activated Apple Pay, you can use it for secure one-tap purchases in shopping apps as well as services such as Uber and Panera Bread, without having to fill out billing and shipping information.

Tap to pay: Touch the front of your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to a contactless payment terminal while holding your finger over the TouchID fingerprint sensor. You get a gentle vibration when the transaction is complete.

Security: Instead of storing and sending credit card numbers, Apple Pay allocates a device-specific account number encrypted on a dedicated chip in the iPhone 6/6 Plus. This number is sent with a one-use transaction ID called a token. “The consumer’s credit card is never exposed during the transaction, and merchants are no longer storing giant databases of credit cards, waiting for some hacker to come along and compromise them,” says Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at mobile security company Lookout. “However, whether [this is more secure] depends on how the token itself is protected and if it is securely stored, neither of which are clear at this point.”

Why you want it: It’s fast. Using the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner to tap and pay beats signing a receipt or entering a PIN code. And with the support of every major U.S. bank, the number of shops that accept Apple Pay could skyrocket very quickly.

Where you can use it: Use it at about 220,000 shops over about a dozen retailer chains, including McDonald’s, Subway, Bloomingdales and Walgreens.

Which phones support it: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus only.

Google Wallet

Google Wallet holds credit and debit card information as well as loyalty cards and discount coupons. You can transfer money into a prepaid card called the Wallet Balance. If you’re using an NFC-enabled Android 4.4 phone, you can pay for purchases in-store. Tap-to-pay won’t work on iPhones or on Android phones running Android 2.3 or older; however, these can access the Wallet’s other features, such as sending or requesting money, one-click checkout at online retailers and tracking orders made with linked payment cards.

Tap to pay: Open the Google Wallet app on your phone, then enter a PIN before holding it against the terminal.

Security: Google encrypts and stores users’ financial details on its servers, and use of the app is protected by a PIN. If someone should manage to pilfer your phone and guess your PIN, Google claims its fraud protection covers 100% of “verified unauthorized transactions.”

Why you want it: Google Wallet supports dozens of loyalty programs and coupon sites. Adding points and receiving discounts when you purchase something is hassle free, even if you’ve forgotten which vouchers and cards you have.

Where you can use it: Use it at any store where contactless payments are accepted.

Which phones support it: Android 2.3; 4.4 and higher required for tap-to-pay; iOS 6 or newer, but does not support tap-to-pay.

softcard-paying-at-kiosk-510px
Softcard

Softcard

Softcard was created by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, so (you guessed it) you’ll need to be on one of these carriers to use it. You’ll also need an NFC-compatible Android phone. The app supports American Express, Chase and Wells Fargo credit cards plus a handful of loyalty and discount cards. You can set up an American Express Serve account and use it to make payments with any debit card, credit card or U.S. bank account.

Tap to pay: As with Google Wallet, open the app, enter your PIN, then hold your NFC smartphone against the payment terminal.

Security: To use Softcard, you need a secure SIM card that can store your financial information so that only the Softcard app can access it. (You can request one from your carrier, assuming your phone is Softcard-compatible.) For each transaction, a one-use token is created so that your card details are not sent to the merchant. Like Google Wallet, a PIN protects the use of the app.

Why you want it: Softcard also scans nearby merchants for offers or discounts available to Softcard users, which you can then use at checkout.

Where you can use it: Use it at dozens of chains including Urban Outfitters, Subway and Walgreens. Check the full list at paywiththis.com.

Which phones support it: Android 4.0 and higher.

LoopPay

LoopPay, a Kickstarter success, works via a smartphone app combined with a Loop device — either a fob ($39, pairable with iPhone or Android phones) or a ChargeCase for iPhone 5/5S ($99). Credit and debit cards, loyalty and rewards cards and your driver’s license can be scanned into the Loop app. Most Android phones running Android 4.2 or newer work with Loop, but some have compatibility issues; check to see if yours works at LoopPay’s compatibility page.

Tap to pay: Hold your fob (or ChargeCase-sheathed iPhone) by the credit card terminal, then swipe your phone screen or press the fob button to pay. If you need to show ID (say, for an alcohol purchase), hit the ID icon on the phone screen and display a scan of any identification you’ve loaded.

Security: All payment information is encrypted and stored in a secure chip inside the Loop fob or ChargeCase, and a PIN protects the use of the app.

Why you want it: LoopPay works at 90% of retailers around the world — far more shops than any of the other apps.

Where you can use it: Use it anywhere there’s a credit card reader.

Which phones support it: iPhone, Android 4.2 and up.

More than an app, not quite a wallet

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Starbucks

Starbucks

This iPhone app combines your loyalty card and prepaid card balance into one handy app for tap-and-pay, keeping track of rewards you’re due and seeing how much more coffee you need to buy before you hit the next reward. Starbucks got this right — the app is used for $6 million in transactions every week.

PayPal

If you’re in a shop that accepts PayPal, log in to the app (iPhone and Android) and check in to your location. You can then take your purchases to the register, tell the cashier you’re paying by PayPal and simply approve the payment on the phone screen. It’s not quite a wallet replacement, but it is handy if you forget your real-world wallet. The app can scan your vicinity for PayPal-friendly merchants.

Keep your information secure

Using a mobile wallet app can be more secure than using a credit card because wallet apps don’t send as much sensitive information (such as your credit card number and expiration date) in the course of a transaction. To maintain security with a mobile payment app on your phone, follow these suggestions from Lookout’s Rogers:

  • Set a password on your phone.
  • Download an app for finding your phone if it’s lost. When your phone becomes your wallet, loss or theft becomes even more inconvenient.
  • Only download mobile payment apps (or, indeed, any apps) from sites you trust. Check the app’s ratings and permissions and read reviews to make sure they’re widely used and respected before you download.
  • Turn off your device’s NFC connection when you’re not using it.
  • Use NFC payment stations with caution; you might end up paying for someone else’s purchases.

Will you be replacing your wallet with an app? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments.

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME fashion

How the Apple Watch Might Look if Reimagined by Fashion’s Top Designers

Imagine these on the catwalk

When the Apple Watch is released in early 2015, there will be many different colors, designs, and interfaces to choose from. Some buyers, however, will always want more.

Online fashion site High Snobiety commissioned designer Finz Lo to create concept art of how the watches might look if they were designed by renowned fashion houses.

The collection is inspired by the work of fashion heavyweights such as Alexander Wang, Chanel, Louie Vitton, Givenchy, and Maison Martin Margiela.

TIME Big Picture

Nobody Can Predict the Success of Apple’s Watch Yet

The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

It’s interesting to read all the coverage Apple got for its watch announcement, and the amazing amount of analysis and predictions that came out shortly after the launch event.

Critics went after everything, from style, form and function. Others lauded its design, potential capabilities and eventual usefulness.

Part of this discrepancy in views is due to the fact that while Apple did show us the watch and give us some early details about what it would do, the company didn’t actually give us a lot of details about things like costs, storage, future apps and security features that could help people develop a more informed view of the product.

Since it doesn’t come out until sometime in early 2015, there’s a lot of time for speculation. And even though we have some solid details we can use to try and draw some conclusions about its potential success, I would like to suggest that to actually try to predict the future success of the Apple Watch today would just be folly. We only have the bits and pieces that Apple wanted to share; it’s not enough to really determine how this product will fare when it finally reaches the market next year.

Why Unveil It So Early?

Many people thought it was odd for Apple to introduce a product like the Apple Watch months before it will ever come to market. For one, it gives competitors a lot of time to try and create something similar that can compete with the Apple Watch when it ships. It also gives the media, detractors and a whole host of folks plenty of time to try and guess what Apple’s really doing and whether it’ll actually have any serious impact on Apple’s bottom line. Given Apple’s penchant for secrecy, one would think that it would have been smarter for the company to hold off announcing the watch until a day or two before it would actually ship.

For those of us who follow Apple very closely, this move, while unique, was a necessary for a couple of reasons. First, this is a brand new category for Apple and the watch market is very complex. Apple actually needs real feedback from people in the watch, entertainment, fashion and tech worlds in order to help refine the final product.

However, there’s another critical reason that the watch was unveiled months before it’s supposed to come to market, and it’s one of the major reasons why it’s impossible to actually predict its success at this time in Apple’s history.

Much More Than Hardware

The proper way to actually view the new Apple Watch is to see it as a platform that includes more than just hardware. It has to have apps and services designed for the new, smaller-screen form factor. This actually follows Apple’s overall formula for success.

Before the company introduced the iPod, it spent two years working with the music industry in order to have media content available for use on the iPod when it shipped. The same thing happened with the iPhone. Apple had to create a special SDK (software development kit) so the developer community could create apps for the new smartphone. While Apple did have its own apps and some special partner apps at launch, the software community moved rapidly to create apps and services for the new iPhone, which ultimately is why people actually buy an iPhone these days.

This similar approach was used when Apple introduced the iPad. At launch, the company had some of its own apps and a couple from partners — and in this case, it could use iPhone apps, although they had to be upscaled up for the iPad’s larger screen. But the software community soon created native iPad apps, and Apple’s tablet took off. In the end, with all three of these products, it’s all about providing customers with hardware, a rich operating system, apps and services.

Waiting for the Killer App

This will be the same case with the Apple Watch. We need a lot more info about what it can do, how it works and, of course, the ultimate value proposition of what it will deliver those who buy it. But the really important unknown factors lie in the types of apps that can be created for such a small screen, and if any “killer” apps emerge that take it from a “nice to have” device to an “everyone needs one” type of product.

The best example of a killer app came from the birth of the PC era. Apple introduced the Apple II computer in 1977, but at the time, it was viewed only as a hobbyist machine. Then in 1979, a program was created that ran on the Apple II called VisiCalc, which was the first spreadsheet. It literally became the killer app that brought the Apple II out of the hobbyist category and into the world of business computing. A they say, the rest is history.

The second killer apps were the word processors that came out about the same time, followed by a product called Lotus 1-2-3 that included a spreadsheet, graphical charts and a database. This was the first killer app for the IBM PC when it came out in 1983, launching the true PC era we know today.

The importance of apps was driven home to me when the iPhone was first launched. When Apple SVP Phil Schiller first showed it to me, he put his iPhone on the coffee table in front of me and asked me what I saw? I told him I saw a blank piece of glass in a metal case. He said that was exactly what Apple wanted me to see until I turned it on. The magic would come from the apps on the device itself. While the hardware is important, he stressed that it would be the apps that make the iPhone dance and sing.

After the launch of the iPhone, I talked to Steve Jobs and asked him if he was certain he had a hit on his hand with the iPhone. He told me he was pretty sure the iPhone would be important, but went on to say that it would be the apps that third-party vendors create that would ultimately make it successful. He also told me that the exciting thing for him was that Apple had developed an SDK to create apps for the iPhone and that he couldn’t wait to see what software developers created.

This really is the formula for the success of any device like this. A company can create a great piece of hardware, but the magic comes from the software community. Who will create the “killer” app or apps that make the device appealing to everyone?

While we only have part of the story about the Apple Watch from Apple, I suspect that even when it launches, we won’t really be able to judge its ultimate success at first. However, I am betting that Apple gets strong support from the software community, who will create a host of apps that may appeal to people from all walks of life. That will ultimately determine the success or failure of Apples new watch.

Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to Big Picture, an opinion column that appears every week on TIME Tech.

TIME Security

Londoners Unwittingly Exchange First Born Children For Free Wi-Fi

Signed agreement that included a "Herod Clause," in experiment designed to show dangers of unguarded Wi-Fi hotspots

Not reading the small print could mean big problems, as a handful of Londoners who accidentally signed away their first born children in exchange for access to free Wi-Fi recently found out.

An experiment organized by the Cyber Security Research Institute was conducted in some of the busiest neighborhoods in London and intended to highlight the major risks associated with public Wi-Fi networks.

In June, researchers set up a Wi-Fi hotspot that promised network access to users who agreed to a set of terms and conditions. These included a “Herod Clause” offering free Wi-Fi if the user agreed to hand over their eldest child “for the duration of eternity.” The page was disabled after six people signed up.

Finnish security firm F-Secure, which sponsored the research, said it had decided not to enforce the clause. “As this is an experiment, we will be returning the children to their parents,” wrote the Finnish company in its report. “While terms and conditions are legally binding, it is contrary to public policy to sell children in return for free services, so the clause would not be enforceable in a court of law.”

The company urged people to take Wi-Fi security more seriously. Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure, told The Guardian: “People are thinking of Wi-Fi as a place as opposed to an activity…You don’t do unprotected Wi-Fi at home, why are you doing it in public?”

[The Guardian]

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