Roughly one month after we first saw a demo of Tim Cook scanning an iPhone at a cash register to buy stuff, Apple Pay has arrived for the rest of us to check out. But before you go blowing your entire paycheck on everything from big handbags to Big Macs, there are a few things to keep in mind about the platform. Read on to learn more about how Apple Pay works, how to get your iPhone ready for it, and most importantly, where you can go test it out yourself.
Get your iPhone ready
Before you can start using Apple Pay, you need to have a compatible device and the right version of iOS. Apple Pay is compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are the only iPhones equipped with the requisite NFC radio antennae. Besides NFC compatibility, the other piece of the hardware puzzle is a Touch ID censor, but iPhone 5S owners are out of luck.
You'll also need to update your iPhone to iOS 8.1, which will roll out on Monday alongside Apple Pay. This update will turn on your phone's Apple Pay feature.
Once your iPhone is in order, you'll need to link up a credit or debit card to use for payments. Apple's confirmed credit and debit partners are:
- American Express
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo
If you already have a card linked to your Apple ID for making iTunes and App Store purchases, you can opt to keep using that card with Apple Pay. You can also add a different card by taking a picture of it with your iPhone. With either option, you'll select and verify your card, and then store it in Passbook.
How it works
Although I'm as new to Apple Pay as you are, we've gotten a pretty good idea of how the system works thanks to in-person and video demos. When buying something at a brick-and-mortar store, you'll hold your iPhone up to a wireless payment terminal near the cash register, and then use Touch ID to complete your purchase. These sensors are the same ones you've already seen in stores, often equipped with both card swipers and a tap-to-pay contactless terminal.
MCDONALD'S. Scan your phone, and press Touch ID. That's it.
If you're buying something through a partnered online store on your iPhone (or, pretty soon, your iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3), you'll just use Touch ID to complete the purchase.
What makes Apple Pay such a game-changer is how many retail partners the platform has. Although we're still not sure which stores will be compatible with Apple Pay on launch day, several companies and retailers have signed up:
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