Apple is planning to introduce a new wearable device at their September 9th event, alongside the much anticipated debut of the iPhone 6. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, it will be among a new class of Apple devices that allow consumers to pay for goods and services using their phones or in this case, a watch. To enable a new mobile payment system, the devices are said to include NFC (near field communications) technology. The new wearable will also feature a curved display, though it’s not clear if it’ll be similar to the screen showcased on Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear S smartwatch.
Dubbed the iWatch by many in the media, Apple’s wearable isn’t expected to hit shelves until 2015. Its debut at the September event ends months of speculation regarding the features and functionality. With most, if not all, of Apple’s major competitors releasing smartwatches, the focus will be on how Apple’s product differs. Will this event mirror the first iPhone event, where then CEO Steve Jobs famously put up a slide showing the current landscape of smartphones. At the time, the iPhone was radically different from anything we had seen and the functionality of the device was years ahead. It truly was a revolutionary device.
Much of what we’ve heard to date has been focused on health and fitness tracking. With interoperability with the iPhone, the wearable should be able to provide expansive data regarding your health. The aptly named Health app will allow you to share this information with your doctors. While the health related features of the iWatch are admirable, payments are something which can be transformative. Everyone pays for goods and services, often with credit cards or cash. There are the infrequent payments made using Passport, but the current hardware isn’t optimized to be a payment device.
With the new iPhone supporting mobile payments, the idea of a using a watch for payments seems easier. As a consumer, I’ve never been comfortable handing my iPhone to a clerk or awkwardly positioning it for the scanner. Having to never remove your iPhone from your pocket, payments made with a flick of the wrist could be a game changer. We’ll learn more next Tuesday during the live stream.