Move over new iPad: Apple scores important iWallet patent

iphone-nfcLost today amidst the din of new iPad reporting was an Apple patent win that could potentially have greater implications than even that magical tablet. Although iWallet rumors have been circling since as far back as 2010, a new Granted Patent for the technology actually shows the service functioning more like a centralized banking system, allowing credit card statements to be sent directly to Apple iTunes accounts, Patently Apple exclusively reports. According to the filing, Apple will allow you to keep your credit and debit cards on file with them using iWallet, pay with the swipe of a barcode or an NFC handshake, and get your bill or statement emailed directly to your iTunes account. If you think about it, Apple’s App Store is already a clearinghouse for billions of dollars in currency, and the next logical step for Cupertino would be to extend its reach from the ethereal world of apps and music to the physical one.

What is novel about Apple’s new patent, however, is its language detailing the ability to delegate and fine tune payment options and methods for individual “users.” For instance: Just as the iTunes Store allows you to set your iPhone to limit the purchase of content deemed mature, you may soon be able to set your son or daughter’s iWallet to only permit transactions for food — but not for clothes. This sort of thinking could serve as the scaffolding for an entirely new and unique financial ecosystem in which spending is analyzed minutely, and custom rules can be developed based on habits — or restrictions applied based on specific criteria. Although budgeting apps such as Pageonce ostensibly exist to meet this demand, the ability to work with financial institutions and retailers intimately, in the way Apple is surely planning, will make all the difference. Although the legalese is a bit — dense — the patent goes even further, allowing for a child, for instance, to send a request to the iWallet account holder for permission to make an exception to a preconfigured payment rule. For a birthday present, perhaps. 

Apple is hardly the first tech company to try its luck at E-banking, hoping to replace cash and credit cards in favor of the ubiquitous smartphone: Google has been trying in earnest, most recently with Google Wallet, to bring the medium to the mainstream. Manifold security concerns, including two successful hacks, have kept the tech, however, from mass adoption.

Hard sell

Or there may be another reason: A new study by marketing research firm Harris Interactive found that most Americans don’t actually use their smartphones for the “smart” part; of the 2,056 adults surveyed in February, only 5 percent of respondents had ever scanned their phones for an admission to a movie or as an airline ticket, and even fewer used their phones to pay for items such as coffee (3 percent)  — even though the iPhone has had a partnership with Starbucks for years. According to the study, a full 63 percent of American smartphone users don’t feel comfortable at all using their devices to store credit card information, a glum indicator of what Apple and Google are up against.

Although there is hope — younger respondents in the Harris study were much more comfortable on average using their smartphones for in-person commerce, and one in five users expected payment-by-smartphone to be the norm in less than five years, misgivings or not. Given Apple’s unique penchant for spinning new technology in such a compelling way that consumers are all but helpless to embrace it, iWallet could turn out to be much more than another patent for Apple’s trophy case. We’ll have to wait and see. 


The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

These 30 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find for the latest MacOS and how they can help out your…

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.
Product Review

The MacBook Air plays the oldies we love, but the band is getting old

We’ve waited for a long time for an update to the MacBook Air, and Apple finally delivered one. With a lot of features ported over from the MacBook Pro, is this new laptop what Apple fans have always wanted?

The best iPhone deals for November 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for November 2018.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.

The Mac mini's price has crept into iMac territory. So how do they compare?

Apple announced a long-awaited update to the Mac mini. Thanks to the updated specs and increase in price, it's begun to creep up to the base model iMac. In this guide, we now put up the specs on the newest refreshed Mac mini against the…

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.