With just days before the biggest event in the Apple electronics calendar, new reports are suggesting that the iWatch will support tap-and-go payments.
If so, I want one.
The Wall Street Journal is one publication running the rumour, saying the iWatch will come fitted with an NFC chip and the ability to use the watch at point-of-sale terminals, much like PayPass and PayWave enabled debit cards.
Fitness monitoring functionality is also expected, with a heart-rate monitor likely to complement motion-based health tracking.
But if Apple manages to create a link between all popular credit card companies and its wearable computer, then it will have achieved something no other manufacturer has yet to accomplish. While phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S5, technically support NFC payments, the uptake of this technology is languishing due to security concerns and slow-moving banking partners.
If Apple can get this part right, mobile payments could become as popular as digital music sales and tablet computers — consumer technology categories Apple single-handedly popularised through its products. If not, Apple’s efforts in mobile payments could be as easily forgotten as its Passbook app.
What’s in a watch?
Personally, I want something more than what is found in the smartwatches already in stores. If I’m going to fork over several hundred dollars for a smartwatch, I want it be capable of doing something than enhances my digital life, not just relocates information to my wrist.
Collectively, all of the smart watches we’ve seen fail to deliver unique features not already available with a smartphone. They tell time, show message notifications and track fitness metrics, but this is all information you can easily see by reaching into your pocket for your phone.
Here are a few things which could change my mind about smart watches:
- Tap-and-go mobile payments
- Home automation integration (Apple’s Homekit)
- Control of, or screen mirroring with Apple TV
- Language translation (it sounds like science fiction, but it's not)