How the Apple Watch Should Handle Apple Pay

With NFC, but without Touch ID, it's not very clear right now how the Apple Watch will handle Apple Pay. Here's how I'd like it to work.


Image credit: Apple

I've written previously about how Apple is way ahead of the rest of us on the Apple Watch learning curve. "Apple Watch Has Success Built-in, by Design." That means that any nagging doubts we have now, Apple dealt with many months ago and solved with panache. With shipments rumored to start in March, just around the corner, I am sure that Apple has has had plenty of time to deal with every aspect of the workings of the Apple Watch. And, of course, we are eager to see how that turns out. Especially with Apple Pay.

But just for the fun of it, I'd like to speculate on how I'd like Apple Watch to work with Apple Pay. It pleases me to ponder such things, yet I suspect that no matter what I write, Apple will do me one better. Still, it's fun to fantasize.

The iPhone Connection

We know, or think we know, that an iPhone will be required to be within range of the Apple Watch for Apple Pay to work. What I'd like to be able to do is preconfigure my Apple Watch for shopping.

  1. I hope to use an Apple Watch app on the iPhone to tell it I plan to shop and then touch my finger to the home button. The necessary data package is securely transmitted to the Apple Watch.
  2. In a secure part of the Apple Watch, my Touch ID-based authorization is held for future use. It's good for 90 minutes.
  3. After that, I have to reauthorize with my fingerprint or passcode on the iPhone.
  4. The next time I shop at an Apple Pay enabled terminal, I just hover the Apple Watch over it, and a (one-time) payment token is transmitted. Paid.
  5. If I pay again somewhere else within 90 minutes, another one-time token is constructed within the Apple Watch. After 90 minutes, I need to go back to the app on the iPhone and reauthorize with Touch ID.
  6. If the Apple Watch comes off my wrist and goes out of range of the iPhone, all Apple Pay capability is terminated. It's useless for Apple Pay until the two are paired up again.

That's how I'd like the whole thing to function, but as I said above, it's likely that Apple has thought the whole process through even more cleverly. I can't wait to see how it'll really work.

How would you like this to work? Let me know in the comments below.