Apple Watch authorized for payments only while wearing it

JC Torres - Sep 10, 2014
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Apple Watch authorized for payments only while wearing it

One of the bigger mysteries surrounding Apple‘s new wireless payment system, and in particular its smartwatch, may have just been solved. Apparently, the Apple Watch will remain authorized to make such transactions while its worn on your wrist and will be deauthorized the moment it is taken off.

Mixing Apple’s Touch ID with a wireless payment system almost feels like a no-brainer. The added protection of a personalized biometric security makes for the perfect partner for such transactions. And with Apple finally getting on the NFC bandwagon, the day of Apple Pay has finally arrived. Or will arrive, depending on how many retailers get on board. But adding the Apple Watch into the equation complicates things a bit. Without a Touch ID, how does the smartwatch ensure security?

Apparently, it still uses your body, but not exactly in the same way as the fingerprint scanner. According to 9to5Mac, the Apple Watch has some sensors on the back that can determine whether it’s on your skin or not. After authorizing the smartwatch using the traditional PIN code, it will remain authorized as long as you wear it. When you’ve taken it off, you’ll need to re-authorize it again with a PIN code, most likely a new one, to get the ball rolling again.

That, however, potentially brings up more questions as well, such as whether that sensor will work only when the watch is worn or whether it be “fooled” by any other part of the body as long as it is touching skin. But perhaps more importantly, how secure will such a system be? Whatever the answers, one thing is for sure: it’s more convenient than having a fixed timeout for authorization. It is also undoubtedly more secure than no sensor at all.

Those questions will most likely be answered before the Apple Watch officially lands in the market. And there is definitely a lot of time to ponder that or even tweak it if necessary. Apple’s smartwatch won’t be available until early 2015. And it will set you back a good $349, which, when taken with a new iPhone 6, would total around $1,000, off-contract prices, of course.


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