Wear it…Do it

A really close friend of ours who crossed a trip to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas off his bucket list said wearable technology was the fascination for him. Will you want to trade a Rolex for an Apple Watch? It’s a fun trade to ponder.

If you have a Rolex, you know it’s an exquisite timepiece that speaks to the ultimate in quality and fashion. But Internet-connected watches are stepping up in quality as a timepiece – and let you do things like read and write emails and text messages, open your garage door. It’s a sign that a lot of functional apps are moving from your phone to your wrist.

Sony’s Smart Watch 3 and LG’s LG-W120L were two headliner smart watches at CES. But the prospect of the Apple Watch, most likely in March, is the elephant that’s not yet in the room but is walking to the door.

Is Apple going to be cutting edge? Only time will tell. But one thing about Apple is that its new products generally work well out of the gate. The company vets its developers and tests their work, and the result is a relatively bug-free application that’s as secure as you can get.

So, as the Apple apps move from the device to the wrist, Apple Pay is an indication of what we can expect. All you need to do is have your phone in your hand, put your thumb on the reader and go. It’s taken off so fast, that we’ve come across cashiers in stores who haven’t yet learned how it works. If you can transfer Apple Pay from an iPhone to an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to activate the reader and press your thumb in one motion.

Whatever we wear and use to access the Internet, 2015’s realities will be compared to the movie “Back to the Future II,” which looked some 25 years or so into the future. We don’t have flying cars or robots like Rosie from the Jetsons, but we have drones, and some companies say they are close on hoverboards and self-lacing shoes.

Once wearable technology becomes more commonplace, we are sure that app developers will quickly find ways to make it more usable. When Apple introduced the iPad, it seemed to need to justify its existence. Today, tablets are becoming replacements for laptops for certain types of applications, especially for people who travel or do a lot work from outside the office. Wearables are likely to take over many of the functions of mobile phones, and that means people will be walking into offices and homes and accessing our networks.

We’ve already talked about network security. In addition, you’ll need network stability to make sure all those new devices and technologies can work as you and everyone in your office or home expects. Nothing gets more frustrating or aggravating than the latest-and-greatest technology that doesn’t work. We can help you step forward to the future by analyzing your network and the load it will need to handle. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment. And, we’ll check out your security at the same time.

By the way, we still think automobiles have the longest way to go in the Internet of Things. Yes, there’s a lot of good phone integration, and you can use apps to send commands to your car. BMW is even testing a valet parking app. That will most certainly be a convenience – especially if all I need to do is talk into my watch.

Armor for Your Mobile Wallet

The battle between Apple Pay and Current C is about to intensify as more shoppers start to use the mobile wallet functions in their smartphones and devices. We believe Apple Pay has better security, giving you more armor for your iPhone’s commercial capabilities.

The heavy-duty armor, as far as we are concerned, is the two-factor authentication that’s part of the Apple Pay system. The system keeps your credit card information separate from the transaction, and you need a fingerprint to complete the transaction. So, if somebody steals your iPhone, they’ll also need to cut off the finger with the print you’ve registered as your “signature.”

The banks and financial companies who back various credit cards have bought into Apple Pay, too, and it would likely behoove many merchants to go along with the idea. Banks and credit card companies are moving to the EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) system that replaces the magnetic stripe with a chip, and they are shedding their responsibility for covering fraudulent charges. That responsibility will shift to the merchants.

The security benefits are enhanced by Apple Pay’s ease of use with Near Field Communication (NFC). A post on Tech Radar gives you a simple explanation, but we’ll simplify it a little more for those who don’t want to click through.

It’s a short-range, low power wireless link that essentially uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology (think EZ Pass) to transfer small amounts of data between two devices just a few inches apart. It doesn’t need any pairing code as with Bluetooth, and it’s so low-power, it doesn’t need a battery in the device being read. Tapping your phone on a contactless payment terminal in a shop, train station or coffee shop identifies your account and takes payment through the app on your phone.

Your phone’s SIM card is a smart card that identified your phone to a network, and phones besides iPhones have NFC capability.

We have some issues with one of Apple Pay’s major competitors, Current C. I don’t think it’s as easy to use, but more important, the system collects a lot of personal information, and it has been hacked. Current C, as we understand it, is linked to a consumer’s checking account, and we don’t use debit cards because of the risk associated with debit card security issues.

We also don’t like the customer-data collection aspects of Current C. It functions like a loyalty program, and we should all have the choice of deciding if we want to be part of any merchant’s loyalty program.

Finally, Current C is more cumbersome to use. You need to log in and pull up a QR code that the store reads. With Apple Pay, you just hold your phone close enough to the reader for it to read your fingerprint.

We think the finger is just scratching the surface. Because fingerprints are unique – even with identical twins – mobile wallets using the Apple Pay principles can spread to boarding passes, door locks or anything else requiring accurate identification.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and start a conversation. And if you have any questions about setting up an Apple Pay account on your iPhone, we’d be happy to help. A phone call – 973-433-6676 – or an email will get it started.