CVS and Walgreens reportedly join Apple's mobile payments project

A day before Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to announce the iPhone 6 and the iWatch, reports from a variety of sources are helping to flesh out details about the two gadgets as well as the companies likely to support Apple's products. Specifically, CVS and Walgreens are reportedly planning to support Apple's NFC-based mobile payments service; Apple is investing in new iBeacon-powered in-store shopping technology; and Apple is building an App Store to cater specifically to its forthcoming smart watch.

Apple tomorrow is widely expected to announce two new iPhones--one with a 4.7-inch display and one with a 5.5-inch display--along with a smart watch many expect to be called the iWatch. Published reports, all citing unnamed sources familiar with the company's plans, for months have been pointing to various specifics of the devices, and today a number of new reports offer further insight into what Apple may announce during its media event Tuesday in California.

According to Re/code, the country's two largest pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, will support Apple's rumored NFC-powered mobile payments service. The service will reportedly allow iPhone 6 and iWatch users to pay for goods and services with a simple swipe of their device. Representatives from CVS, Walgreens and Apple generally declined to comment, according to Re/code.

Separately, according to Bank Innovation, Apple will reportedly use token technology in its NFC mobile payments system to add a layer of security to the service. Instead of transmitting credit card or bank information directly, Apple's system will instead use single-use digital tokens, thereby making it more difficult for hackers to potentially steal users' data.

In other reports, 9to5Mac noted that Apple stores are upgrading to new versions of iBeacon sensors in an effort to more accurately track in-store shoppers and to provide more detailed information to customers. Specifically, the publication reported that Apple is installing new Gimbal Series 20 Proximity Beacons across its outlets. Such a move is interesting since Qualcomm owns the Gimbal brand of beacons. However, 9to5Mac noted that Apple may be investing in the creation of its own iBeacon devices.

9to5Mac also reported that the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will include a landscape-mode user interface that is similar to the iPad's interface. Such an interface will provide more options to users who orient the device in landscape mode. Previous reports have indicated the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will also include a special, one-handed interface.

In a final 9to5Mac report, Apple is reportedly creating a special App Store specifically for its rumored iWatch. The store, which may be a category inside Apple's existing App Store for iOS devices, will feature apps built specifically for its smart watch. Further, the publication noted that Apple has already sent out iWatch SDKs (software development kits) to select social network and services companies so they can begin to build apps for the company's smart watch.

Apple's move to a larger screen for its iPhone could help the company cash in on consumers' desires for larger screens, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. The publication, citing data from Canalys, noted that phones with screens larger than 5 inches accounted for nearly 40 percent of global smartphone shipments in the second quarter, up from 21 percent a year earlier. Those sales are currently being dominated by Apple rival Google and its Android operating system.

Indeed, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty predicted Apple could gain as much as 11 percentage points of market share with its new big-screen iPhones.

For more:
- see this WSJ article
- see this Re/code article
- see these three 9to5Mac articles
- see this Bank Innovation article

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