The Madness will finally end tomorrow, but in the meantime there’s still plenty of it in the iOSphere.
This week there are new and, incredibly, credible reports that Apple will launch a mobile payments system with iPhone 6. Most of the details are about the backroom deals with big financial institutions, but they also include use of an NFC chip.
Speaking of NFC chips, one writer offers thoughts on All the Wonderful Things you can do with NFC apart from buying stuff. Also this week: bad news on sapphire screens (they won’t be appearing) but good news on storage (more!).
You read it here second.
iPhone 6 will introduce mobile payments
As part of its long-rumored move into mobile buying, Apple has convinced five of the country’s biggest financial institutions to cut transaction fees for purchases made with the upcoming iPhone 6.
That’s according to Ian Kar’s post at BankInnovation.com, drawing in part on his own sources and on information blogged by Tom Noyes, a financial technology adviser who previously was head of channels at Citi. Noyes has been blogging about Apple’s mobile buying/payments strategy for months. The deal reveals a number of details about Apple’s approach and technologies for mobile payments.
American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One, and Bank of America have agreed to cut their fees, which will save Apple tens of millions of dollars annually going forward. Apple was aggressive in pursuing the lower fees: It went so far as to accept some of the fraud risk that electronic transactions entail.
“Apple was apparently adamant about getting the card-present rates and told issuers that it would assume some of the fraud risk inherent in every transaction by providing a secure element via biometric authentication (its TouchID feature) and location data provided through an NFC chip,” Kar writes. “The Apple payments platform will work with all of their cards.”
Kar and Noyes outline an Apple system that will support select credit and debit cards initially, and an initial set of partnerships with some big retailers. Presumably, Apple plans to aggressively expand both in the future. The transactions will make use of an NFC chip in the new iPhones and, as mentioned, the TouchID fingerprint sensor. Noyes expects Apple to extend payments via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and its iBeacon specification at some point in the future.
Still no details on what the phone-based app will be like, or how (or whether) Apple will incentivize users to pull out their iPhone instead of their wallet for payments.
iPhone 6 will have multi-purpose NFC chip
An NFC wireless chip in the iPhone 6 will be used for more than just connecting to a cash register terminal, according to VenturBeat’s Mark Sullivan, although his paean to NFC sounds a bit strained to The Rollup.
Sullivan explains that besides acting in “card emulation” mode, for payments and ticketing, NFC chips also have “peer-to-peer” and “reader/writer” modes.
With peer-to-peer, you can just touch one NFC-equipped device to another to trigger a file or data exchange. With reader/writer, you touch your NFC phone to an NFC “tag” embedded in a poster, or wrapper, for example, and the phone can import and display whatever information has been coded into the tag.
Sullivan seems particularly enamored with the idea that you’ll be able to touch your iPhone 6 to speakers and eventually headsets from Apple’s Beats unit, since this would be way easier and more efficient than having to fumble around with Bluetooth. And with reader/writer mode, a software developer could create “a diet app [that] could help the user track all the ingredients being ingested throughout the day, based on information gathered from NFC tags [on food products].”
Neil Hughes, AppleInsider, showing the proper technique for appearing to say something New by quoting your source when you have no idea what he’s talking about and don’t want to admit that to your readers.
All of which sounds, honestly, a bit underwhelming.
iPhone 6 will lack sapphire screen, but have 128-Gbyte storage option
KGI Securities stock analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed in a new research note last week that, contrary to hopes, both of the new iPhone 6 big-screen models will lack a scratch-resistance sapphire screen.
The claim was expeditiously proclaimed in a blogpost by Neil Hughes at AppleInsider. Kuo either didn’t say why, or Hughes didn’t pass it on.
But, on the bright side, both the 4.7- and 5.5-inch models will offer 128GB of storage (double the current maximum of 64GB), and a barometric pressure sensor, and a programmable power button.
According to Hughes, Kuo believes that the barometric pressure sensor “will provide support for more indoor navigation applications,” which would be quite a trick. Perhaps that means the sensor can tell when you’re upstairs as opposed to downstairs. But there’s more: the same sensor will support “new health-related functions related to spirometry,” Hughes declares.
The Rollup had to google "spirometry" since Hughes didn't bother to explain it. According to Wikipedia, “spirometry (meaning the measuring of breath) is the most common of the pulmonary function tests (PFTs), measuring lung function, specifically the amount (volume) and/or speed (flow) of air that can be inhaled and exhaled.” Here's a modern USB PC-based spirometer, which suggests the challenges Apple might face in supporting health-related functions related to spirometry with an iPhone-based sensor.
This is part of strain of singularly ill-informed iOSphere speculation that seems to think that Apple’s Health app, in iOS 8, and new sensors, will let the iPhone do almost everything medical except give you a colonoscopy.
Kuo also believes that iPhone 6 will have a programmable power button, “which he said will be ‘programmable to being integrated with specific applications,’” according to Hughes. That just sounds like complete bafflegarb. Neither Kuo nor Hughes makes the slightest effort to explain what a programmable power button would be used for or why anyone would want one.
iPhone 6 will be really, really expensive
The 4.7-inch iPhone will start at an unsubsidized price of $860, and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 at $1,022, according to an overhyped post at International Business Times. At least, if you plan on buying it in Hong Kong.
“A leaked Apple promotional flyer twirling in Hong Kong (now available with TK Tech News) has revealed that the upcoming iPhone 6 series smartphones' prices would be equivalent to a MacBook,” according to IBT’s Rohit KVN.
Apparently neither outlet read the research note from Mr. Kuo, about 128GB, because their variants offer 16G, 32G, and 64GB of storage. Top price for the top-end 5.5-inch model: $1,250.
Currently, an iPhone 5s without a carrier contract, starts at $649 on Apple’s website.
It’s not clear by IBT mentions a “leaked Apple promotional flyer” because the TK Tech News post doesn’t say anything about the photograph it posted showing the prices, or where the photographed flyer or poster or whatever it is actually is or from whence it came.
There’s been very little discussion about how Apple will, or might, price the new iPhones, including whether it will continue the “c” model introduced in 2013, whether the 4.7-model becomes the new flagship (replacing the 5s), or whether the 5.5-inch model might be priced higher than the traditional iPhone high-end.