Those longstanding rumors of Apple building a mobile payment service may be coming true sooner than you think. Recode‘s sources claim that the folks in Cupertino have struck a deal with American Express to work on an iPhone payment system, hot on the heels of The Information‘s report of a similar agreement with Visa. Details of the system aren’t clear beyond a tie-in with the next iPhone (and likely your iTunes account), but Apple is supposedly ready to spill the beans at its September 9th event — if the leak is accurate, you’re going to get the full story pretty quickly.
We wouldn’t bet on a launch when Apple is known to occasionally change its mind (or face delays) at the last minute. However, the payment tech would certainly make sense in light of many rumors that Apple is finally incorporating NFC into its devices. While you can use NFC for accessory pairing and local file transfers, it’s more of a nice-to-have feature in those areas. It’s more important when you’re shopping, since tapping a payment terminal is typically easier and more secure than sending your banking details over Bluetooth or WiFi.
[Image credit: The.Comedian, Flickr]
Amid all of the leaks today based on photos and videos from luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk [Instagram page], one additional point worth mentioning is the device’s LTE modem. While photos posted to reveal the existence of an NFC chip from NXP has seen identifying marks on many of the other components blurred, a portion of the text printed on the LTE modem is visible, confirming the board does indeed contain Qualcomm’s MDM9625M as had been previously rumored.
MDM9625M boxed in red
The MDM9625 is a Category 4 LTE modem, supporting speeds of up to 150 Mbps, compared to the MDM9615 Category 3 modem at up to 100 Mbps, which is found in the iPhone 5s, 5c, and 5. Some observers had been holding out hope that Apple might use Qualcomm’s even faster MDM9635 Category 6 modem as is reportedly lined up for Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Alpha handset, but with Apple’s history of conservatism in choosing its cellular technology and questions about production ramp-up for the MDM9635 make it unsurprising that Apple has opted for the MDM9625.
Likely WTR1625L boxed in red and WFR1620 boxed in blue
Part of the speed benefits of the MDM9625 and new LTE-Advanced technology compared to earlier generations of modems comes from the use of carrier aggregation to combine channels for greater bandwidth. With the MDM9625, this carrier aggregation requires a pair of companion chips, a WTR1625L transceiver chip and a WFR1620 chip. These chips appear to be located on the opposite of the iPhone 6 logic board from the LTE modem itself.
On the whole, the use of the MDM9625 in the iPhone 6 sets the stage for faster cellular data connectivity as networks are built out to support its capabilities, and Apple will likely tout some of these improvements during its media event scheduled for September 9.
Yesterday, Re/code broke the news that Apple planned to introduce its upcoming wearable device alongside the iPhone 6, and now Bloomberg is seconding that rumor, pointing towards a simultaneous debut of two different iPhones and a wearable device at Apple’s September 9 event.
According to Re/code, Apple had originally planned to introduce its wearable device at an October event separate from its September iPhone event, but later ended up changing its plans. Bloomberg speculates that Apple’s plan to debut the wearable device alongside the iPhone may be the company’s way of limiting expectations for the device, positioning it more as an iPhone accessory rather than a standalone device.
Apple will give the new wearable a boost by pairing its debut with its flagship product, the iPhone. The company also may be trying to manage expectations for the new device, signaling that it’s more of an accessory instead of a category that stands by itself. By contrast, when the iPad was introduced in 2010, Apple held a special event just for that product.
Apple does appear to be planning a major affair for the debut of the wearable device and the two iPhones, however, holding the event at the Flint Center at De Anza College where it introduced the original Macintosh thirty years ago and the first iMac in 1998. The company is building a massive structure on the site, the purpose of which remains unclear.
Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and iTunes chief Eddy Cue have also heavily hyped Apple’s upcoming product lineup, with Cue saying it’s the “best product pipeline” in 25 years and Cook promising “really great stuff” in new product categories.
It is likely Apple is planning to unveil its wearable device, which has commonly been called the iWatch in rumors, several months before it becomes available to consumers. A distinct lack of product leaks and tangible rumors have suggested the device is not yet in production, and an introduction before a deluge of part leaks allows Apple to debut the device while it’s still largely a surprise.
Though we’ve not seen images of Apple’s wearable device, rumors have suggested it will have a heavy focus on health and fitness with an array of health-related sensors that measure metrics like steps taken, sleep quality, heart rate, and more. It’s said to come in multiple sizes and at multiple price points, and it is also said to be heavily integrated with the iPhone and iOS 8 features like the Health app.
(Image: 2.5-inch iWatch concept by SET Solutions)
Smartphone prognosticators have claimed for years that the next iPhone would have NFC for mobile payments, and for years they’ve written follow-ups explaining why it never happened. As always, there’s plenty of NFC smoke in the air, but is there actually a fire? A new report from Wired’s Gadget Lab says yes – according to the usual unnamed sources, Apple’s going to show off a shiny new mobile payments platform at its September 9 event (we’re still waiting for our invite) and NFC is expected to play a part. Just how big a part remains shrouded in mystery — after all, Apple SVP Phil Schiller said at an AllThingsD event that NFC wasn’t a solution to any current problem consumers faced.
As always, you should take such notions with a grain of salt, but Wired’s is the latest in a litany of reports that claim that NFC is really happening this time. Putting aside the fact that the Wall Street Journal and The Information have pointed to the existence of Apple’s payments plans, sites like VentureBeat and BrightWire have spoken to sources who have also said NFC will appear in the iPhone 6, echoing sentiments delivered by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Oh, and let’s not forget the purported logic board schematics making the rounds purportedly reveal right where the NFC chip will sit. That’s arguably too much chatter to dismiss at this point in the game — thankfully, we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out for sure.
Filed under: Mobile
We’ve been hearing rumblings about an iPhone 6 event next month for some time now, but Apple has made it official: the company’s next affair will indeed be held on September 9th. While there aren’t the usual clues as to what we can expect — the invite merely states “Wish we could say more” — the change in seasons this time of year usually signals the arrival of a new iPhone. And of course, there’s been some talk of a wearable, too. As always, you can bet we’ll be there to bring all the news as it happens starting at 10AM PT/1PM ET in Cupertino.
If you ask many pundits when Apple will unveil its often-rumored wearable device, many of them will say October. However, we may have to revise those expectations a bit. Recode‘s sources now claim that Apple will unveil the gadget on September 9th — you know, the same day that many expect to see at least one new iPhone. There’s little to back the claim at this point beyond the site’s reputation for accurate leaks, but the timing makes sense given that the iPhone and the mystery wristwear are expected to work virtually hand-in-hand. As for actual technical details? Besides the expected fitness and home automation support, there isn’t much more to say — most likely, you’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to get the full scoop.
[Image credit: Ruben Schade, Flickr]
Apple has plans to unveil its upcoming wearable device in September, alongside the iPhone 6, reports Re/code. The site previously suggested Apple had planned to debut the device at an October event, but now says that Apple’s plans have changed.
iWatch concept by Todd Hamilton, based on the Nike Fuelband
Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: “Could things change between now and fall? That’s certainly possible.” Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed. Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9th.
According to Re/code, the device will “make good use” of both HealthKit and HomeKit, two sets of APIs that were introduced during WWDC. HealthKit, which ties into Apple’s iOS 8 Health app, focuses on health and fitness, while HomeKit is a home automation platform designed to allow users to control a variety connected devices.
Though Apple has plans to introduce a wearable device in September, there is no word on when the device might ship. Given a lack of part leaks and rumors pointing towards a late 2014 or early 2015 launch, it is likely the device will be shown several months before it will be available to consumers.
Apple’s upcoming wearable device has been frequently referred to as the iWatch by both MacRumors and other rumor sites, but it remains unclear what Apple will call the device at launch. It is expected to be a wrist worn device, however, and rumors have suggested that it will come in multiple sizes with several different designs available at multiple price points.
If you’re an iPhone user, you may want to be cautious about opening messages that contain phone numbers in the near future; they may cost you a lot of money. Developer Andrei Neculaesei notes that maliciously coded links in some apps will abuse the “tel” web handler (which covers dialing) to automatically make a phone call the moment you view a message. Potentially, an evildoer could force you to call an expensive toll number before you’ve had a chance to hang up. The exploit isn’t limited to any one app or developer, either. Facebook Messenger, Gmail and Google+ all fall prey to the attack, and it’s likely that other, less recognizable apps exhibit similar behavior. Apple’s Safari browser will ask you before starting a call, but FaceTime’s behavior lets you pull a similar (though not directly related) stunt.
In many cases, it’s the developers who are to blame. They’re supposed to put tighter controls on what happens when a number comes in, such as giving you a warning. However, Apple could theoretically mitigate the issue by requiring prompts for all phone links. You may not have to worry about a spam flood in practice, but let’s hope app writers act quickly — as Android users have already learned, “tel” exploits can cause a lot of grief if left unchecked.
It’s hardly uncommon for smartphone batteries to lose some of their oomph over time, but Apple just might be able to help if your iPhone 5′s battery has been flakier than usual. The folks in Cupertino have figured out that some of the iPhone 5s sold between its launch in September 2012 and January 2013 have batteries that may “suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently” and has kicked off a program to replace them free of charge. Mosey on over to Apple’s support page to see if your iPhone 5 is one of the affected units — if it is and you live in the United States or China, you can reach out and claim your replacement battery right now. What’s that you say? You’re one of those proactive types and already shelled out money for a replacement? Reach out anyway, because Apple may have a refund waiting for you. Alas, the rest of the world will have to wait just a little bit longer — Apple plans to launch the program in other countries on August 29th.