Oh, they're sturdy enough and the thinness is great. I just wish they'd make them out of something other than compressed axle grease.
The most interesting thing about this device wasn't even mentioned in the keynote.
It seems that it is the first device to feature the new 'Apple Sim' card.
In the bad old days, you bought the iPad, along with a 3/4G data contract.
You buy the iPad and then you select which carrier you want to use. No contract. You can switch to another provider whenever you like, which should come in really handy if you take the iPad abroad and link with a local supplier to avoid roaming charges. I imagine that the Apple SIM sorts out the billing to the selected supplier.
I've always said that Apple needs its own mobile network; this could be the first step. In the future, you buy an iDevice and you're ready to go. Apple charges a flat monthly rate and automatically selects the best network depending on signal strength.
And Apple Pay also works with the watch, though no one seems sure how.
There is a sensory mesh covering the watch face that can read the amount of force applied to the screen by a finger. It's possible that could be used as a new type of fingerprint reader. But if this was the case then Apple would have mentioned it.
My guess is that it has to be used in conjunction with the phone:
You put the watch on and the credit card tokens are transferred from your phone. You are also given a number to enter to unlock the tokens.
You enter the number into the watch and leave the house – without the phone.
You buy your coffee by presenting the watch to the reader. You don't have to enter the number.
You take the watch off (for some reason) and when you turn around, it's gone. Aside from feeling a little foolish, you know your money is safe because the card tokens are only unlocked while the watch detects a heartbeat. Remove the watch from your wrist and the security code has to be entered again.
The thief heads straight for his favourite crack house and tries to score a day's supply. He presents your watch to his dealer's reader and the watch asks for a code to unlock the card tokens. He tries three numbers and the watch locks up completely. His dealer shivs him for wasting his valuable time. Job done.
Not quite. The new hardware will work with any supported service, of which Apple Pay is just one.
New hardware is already happening. The Apple Pay news leaked before the keynote because a lot of folk noticed that chains such as MacDonalds had started replacing their card readers just a few days before. Coincidence? Apparently not. MacDonalds was one of the companies (others include Disney, Subway, Macys, Nike, Staples and ToysRUs) that has already signed up and replaced their readers.
But what about the smaller outfits. Will they be prepared to replace their card readers. Well, they don't really have a choice.
As of October 2015, any merchants that do not support EMV credit cards – smart cards with integrated circuits that enable point of sale authentication and help prevent fraud – will be liable for the fraudulent use of counterfeit, lost, and stolen cards. EVM cards are read at the point of sale by inserting the end of the card featuring the chip into a payment terminal, rather than swiping the familiar magnetic stripe on the back of the card. Consumers then enter a PIN to authorize the transaction. (If you've traveled internationally, you're likely familiar with this system).
And you can guarantee that the banks and card issuers will be pushing the readers that support Apple Pay. Apple has been negotiating with the major financial players since January 2013 apparently. The banks like the security, and Apple has been reasonable about the rates they're charging them for the service. There's also the fact that Apple's customers do seem to drift towards the higher income bracket, and don't seem to mind spending it.
So what's Apple's cut? About 0.15% of the transaction fee, which should add a few pennies to the Apple Poor Fund.
The more I hear about it the more I realise that this keynote was all about the payment service.
Not new, really. This was something the credit card companies have played with in a different form for a few years. Essentially, it's a throwaway credit card number linked to the main account that can only be used once. My guess, though is that given the number of digits on a credit card that can be used for uniqueness, that won't scale.
Scalability won't be a problem because the system doesn't use credit card numbers.
You take a picture of your credit card.
The phone encrypts it and sends it to the card issuer. The original picture is not stored on the phone.
The card issuer sends back an encrypted token which is stored in the phone's secure storage.
When a transaction is made, the token is used to generate a unique transaction code which is transmitted to the card issuer. The shop does not know your card number, your expiry date or your 3-digit code on the reverse. Neither does Apple.
According to MacWorld, the phone will respond to any attempt to remove the phone's processor so as to ensure the token doesn't fall into unsavoury hands.
Each transaction will need a thumb print, which will prevent anyone from making transaction with a lost or stolen phone.
It is possible to spoof the touchID (as of last year sometime) reader, but the process to do so requires hours of painstaking, careful work; a very clean finger print (for the correct finger); an expensive lab setup; and is limited to about five attempts before the phone locks out. Beyond most thieves, and should certainly give the phone's owner time to get to a PC, log into their account and wipe the phone.
And because the card details are not stored on the phone, there is no need to cancel credit cards.