WSJ: NFC-enabled iWatch has ‘a role in mobile payments’, features curved OLED screen

iWatch and iPhone 6 mockup (Martin Hajek 001)

Adding up to the ongoing conversation about Apple’s purported wearable project dubbed by the media the ‘iWatch’, The Wall Street Journal affirmed Thursday that the fashionable gizmo will connect to the upcoming iPhone 6 via NFC and come in two sizes to appeal to both gender’s preferences.

NFC stands for Near-Field Communication, which is a short-range wireless technology required for the handset’s rumored mobile payment functionality.

In their write-up behind the paywall, reporters Lorrraine Luk, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Greg Bensinger quote people familiar with the matter as saying that both iWatch sizes feature a curved organic light-emitting diode screen, or OLED.

There will be sensors to track and monitor health and fitness data, as expected. According to the Journal, Apple’s use of NFC technology on the iWatch signals that it “sees a role for the device in digital payments”.

The article states that the iWatch will also tap NFC to “simplify the process of connecting, or pairing”.

On the other hand, pairing can also be achieved over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct, which is exactly how Apple’s peer-to-peer networking technology called AirDrop establishes a secure connection between iOS devices to share items.

iWatch and iPhone 6 mockup (Martin Hajek 002)

Of course, it’s entirely plausible that the iWatch needs NFC in order to make the contactless payment experience at the cash register ridiculously simple.

I’m purely speculating here, but the NFC circuitry inside the iWatch could give users the ability to make mobile payments directly on the wearable device, without ever pulling an iPhone 6 out of their pocket.

Speaking of which, the WSJ story corroborates earlier reports that called for the use of NFC on the iPhone 6 for the mobile payment functionality. Apple is expected to mainstream mobile payments by tapping a pool of more than 800 million iTunes accounts with credit cards enabled for 1-click shopping.

If you ask KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, the iWatch is debuting next year in two sizes, featuring eight gigabytes of internal storage and a processor with 512MB of memory.

The device was previously rumored to be releasing this November. The Journal story corroborates Kuo’s early-2015 iWatch release prediction.

“People familiar with Apple’s plans said it is unlikely that Apple will release the smartwatch this year”, reads the write-up, adding that engineers are currently “working out engineering kinks in production.”

Another source close to Apple’s suppliers said there is “no way” that Apple will be able to ship the iWatch this year. And in wrapping up its story, WSJ concludes that Apple is actually planning to take preorders for the iWatch “before it officially goes on sale”.

Mockups courtesy of 3D artist Martin Hajek.

[The Wall Street Journal]