We are sure to hear all of the exhausting details concerning the Apple Watch at tomorrow’s keynote, but Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, has given us an early glimpse into one of the smartwatch’s most important features: Apple Pay. Apple Pay is currently incorporated into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple CEO Tim Cook claims that it accounts for two out of every three dollars spent when it comes to contactless payments.
Most have praised the easy-to-use nature of Apple Pay and it appears that the payment process will get just a tiny bit simpler when an Apple Watch is involved. While the Apple Watch itself doesn’t have Touch ID — which makes Apple Pay possible on iPhones — it does have an NFC chip to store your payment details. As we’ve previously discussed, an Apple Watch needs to be first paired with an iPhone to handle heavy lifting for most activities (including Apple Pay). In the case of Apple Pay, the Apple Watch must be paired with your iPhone, and it must be strapped to your wrist. After entering your passcode, your Apple Watch can be used for Apple Pay as long as you don’t take it off your wrist.
"Your watch has to be unlocked, and your phone can unlock your watch,” said Cue in an interview with CNET. “If I took my watch off and gave it to you, it would know and no longer work. If I wanted to pay right now, I could pay with the watch and not have to take the phone out of my pocket."
While it’s technically easier to wave your wrist above an NFC scanner on a cash register than to hold your finger “just right” on your iPhone’s Touch ID sensor to complete an Apple Pay transaction, it’s just a small improvement. At the end of the day, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners are using a $350+ device to relegate their more functional $650+ smartphone to “pocket duty.”
The Apple Watch makes a little more sense for owners of the iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S. When paired with an Apple Watch, those smartphones are capable of supporting Apple Pay.