Apple Inc. unveiled a flurry of new software features and services at its Worldwide Developer Conference, including an updated iPhone lock screen and a pay-later option that pushes the tech giant deeper into finance.
The new payment feature, called Apple Pay Later, is a highly anticipated addition to the Wallet app. Bloomberg previously reported that the service was coming, part of an expansion into the financial world that also includes bringing more of its infrastructure in-house.
Among retailers in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, 46.0% offer buy now, pay later services through providers like Afterpay and Klarna. Affirm is the most popular option, with 14.5% of retailers accepting it, followed by PayPal Credit and Klarna at 11.6% and 9.9% respectively. Penetration of Apple Pay into the Top 1000 hit 36.5% this year, with 134 retailers who currently accept Apple Pay but don’t accept buy-now-pay-later options. That would increase buy-now-pay-later penetration to nearly 60% of Top 1000 retailers.
Those retailers, it appears, won’t have a choice in accepting the delayed-payment options once the iOS update launches. But they also won’t know if a delayed payment option is even used. Apple did not return a request for clarification, but the press release states that “Apple Pay Later is available everywhere Apple Pay is accepted online or in-app, using the Mastercard network.” It clarifies that the option is available only to “qualifying applicants” and is restricted to U.S. users.
This is different than how many pay-later services work, where retailers pay higher payment processing fees to services in return for higher conversion rates and average order values among shoppers allowed to pay over time. For Monoprice, customers using Affirm checked out with a cart five times more expensive than other checkout methods.
The presentation Monday, part of a weeklong event, previews key features for Apple’s developers, which now number 34 million, according to CEO Tim Cook. The wide-ranging upgrades are meant to keep users loyal and use more Apple products together. One change to the Mac operating system, for instance, will let customers use their iPhone as a webcam with their computer.
Updated Apple software
Apple’s latest iPhone software, iOS 16, will include the new lock screen, letting users personalize the feature and view widgets — bits of software that handle simple tasks. A feature called Live Activities will make it easier to keep track of events or activities, such as an NBA game or an Uber ride, Senior Vice President Craig Federighi said at the event.
The peek at the software features comes a few months ahead of the launch of a new iPhone — Apple’s flagship product — which typically gets unveiled in the fall. That device accounted for more than half of the company’s revenue in the last fiscal year, generating almost $192 billion.
On the hardware side, Apple unveiled two new Macs, including the biggest refresh of its Air model in more than a decade. The new computers will use the company’s homegrown M2 chip, which is developed after splitting from Intel Corp.
The announcements also included an update that will let users edit messages they’ve already sent and unsend messages. And Apple’s CarPlay is getting an overhaul that will integrate more tightly with a vehicle’s instruments, such as the speedometer and other gauges.
The Apple Watch is also getting improvements, such as atrial fibrillation detection to help with heart health. And the device’s latest software — watchOS 9 — will better track sleep to indicate what stage users are experiencing at various times at night.
In addition, the watch will get more so-called complications — the pieces of information on the device’s face.
New password-less feature coming
Apple also said it plans to work with developers to create a “password-less future.” The company is updating its Safari browser to help with password management and moving toward Passkeys, which are cryptographic keys that can’t be phished and stay on the device themselves.
A new collaboration app called Freeform, meanwhile, puts Apple in closer competition with Zoom Video Communications Inc. And the iPad is getting more multitasking features and a long-awaited weather app.
The operating system updates will be available to developers as part of a beta test on Monday, Cook said. And the public will be able to see them in a broader beta test next month.
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