Apple Pay was first announced in September at Apple’s second media event of the year alongside the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. At this past Thursday’s event, Apple revealed the release date for Apple Pay would be Monday, October 20th. The first major update to iOS 8, called iOS 8.1, includes Apple Pay and a few other improvements.
Not all devices that can upgrade to iOS 8.1 will be able to use Apple Pay. Since it is a new technology, it will be limited to newer smartphones like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and new tablets like the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. It will also be available on the Apple Watch when it launches in 2015. The iPhone 5, 5s and 5c will be able to use Apple Pay in-store, but it must be connected to the Apple Watch. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can use Touch ID (Apple Pay) to purchase products in apps and in-store, with or without the Apple Watch. The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are limited to using Apple Pay to purchase products in apps.
Apple Pay works simply by securely storing your credit card information on your iPhone and using Touch ID with NFC to purchase products in store on in apps. For example, if you are at Walgreens purchasing a candy bar. The cashier will ring it in (say $1.50), just touch your finger on Touch ID and hold the phone near the card reader. The phone will vibrate and beep when the payment has been made.
Although Apple Pay is not a new concept, many retailers need to allow their systems to accept payments with it. Android smartphones have used this technology, NFC, for years so retailers have the procedures already in place. Apple Pay also stores your credit cards in the Passbook app. Major credit card companies and banks have to allow their cards to be stored virtually on your phone. For the initial roll-out, major credit card companies (like Visa, American Express and MasterCard) and major banks (like Chase, Capital One and Bank of America) have signed on. Major retailers, like Aeropostale, McDonald’s and Panera Bread, will allow Apple Pay starting Monday. Other retailers, like Target, Staples and Groupon, will only allow Apple Pay for now to purchase products in their apps. For a full list of banks and retailers who have signed on, check out Apple’s website.
In addition to Apple Pay, iOS 8.1 includes a few more improvements (these are based on the first two developer betas of the software):
- Notification Center widget icons are larger in “Edit” view
- Dictation is optional and can be turned off in Settings
- “Recently Added” photo album has been renamed to “Camera Roll”
- iBooks icon matches Bookmarks icon in Safari
- small changes to app permissions screen
- bug fixes
iOS 8.1 can be downloaded over-the-air starting Monday, October 20th at 9am PST. It can also be downloaded via iTunes.