Apple CEO Tim Cook debuted a line of new products last week to consumers’ delight. The tech giant launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Apple Watch and a new mobile payments system called Apple Pay.
So, how will the public like them apples? CNET.com Senior Writer Dan Ackerman thinks Cook made more of a case for software than hardware this time around, calling Apple Pay the company’s “big secret weapon.”
“It’s not as flashy as having a hardware product like a wristwatch or a phone, but it could really remake digital payments,” he remarked.
Apple Pay enables users to pay for purchases with a single touch of their phone, and secures credit and debit card information with encrypted numbers that are never stored on the device, not Apple’s servers.
So far, Apple Pay boasts participation from credit issuers Visa, American Express, Bank of America, and Chase and can be used at over 220,000 stores and restaurants including Macy’s, Walgreens and McDonald’s.
With some 800 million credit cards already on file via the iTunes store, can Apple really make a wallet-less future possible?
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“People have been trying to get into that digital wallet area for a long time,” Ackerman said. “It’s tough because you usually have to download a different app for every store; but if Apple can have a cohesive view of it where you just use your phone, it’s got your credit card in it, and it works at all the stores you go to, that would be really huge.”
As for the next generation of iPhones, Ackerman was more measured about whether consumers will be rushing to buy. (If pre-order sales are any indication, though, Apple will have no trouble selling them.)
“It’s a home run in the sense that they’ve caught up to where they need to be,” he explained. “The iPhone in particular felt kind of dated for a couple of years with much smaller screens. A lot of people switched to Android phones where you get a 5-inch screen.”
The company’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus feature larger screens, longer battery life and an improved 8-megapixel rear camera, with a starting price of $199. They go on sale Friday, Sept. 19.
The other big gadget was the Apple Watch, which won’t be available until January. Starting at $349, it comes in multiple styles and sizes and is loaded with features such as the ability to make phone calls and send texts, sensors for health apps, and mobile payments through Apple Pay.
While it will miss the Christmas season, Ackerman believes showing it early was a strategic move to get the tech community, i.e. developers, rather than the general public excited about the smartwatch.
“It’s definitely not ready yet,” he said. “It’s something they’re going to put out next year, but you have to get it out there and get software developers access in order to develop apps for it.”