Apple Pay reminders and media responsibility

Apple has escalated the reminder process for completing Apple Pay set up on iPhone and iPad. Not everyone is happy about it. Unfortunately, not every publication is writing competently on the topic either.

From The Wall Street Journal.

Though payment analysts say the service speeds up checkout times and is more secure than traditional cards, Apple Pay has struggled to achieve broad adoption in the U.S. Many remain skeptical that it is more secure, including Jack Frederick, a 29-year-old professional comedian from Queens, N.Y., who prefers using his credit card directly.

Juxtaposing the expert opinion of analysts who have investigated and affirmed that Apple Pay "speeds up checkout times and is more secure than traditional cards' with a — I can't believe I have to type this — the rando opinion of a comedian, is journalistic malpractice. It's another example of feelings-instead-of-facts FUD-spreading that makes those who would otherwise benefit most from a technology fearful of it and less likely to use it.

And it's not the only malware-in-written form presented in the piece:

"Everyone is doing essentially the same trick," said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates. "It's really antitrust behavior."

Kay compares Apple Pay notifications in OS to Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer in Windows, something that is only possible when source, writer, and editor conspire to misrepresent what antitrust behavior and monopoly abuse actually mean and requires.

The original marketing around the story seemed to imply it was difficult to turn the reminder off, which it isn't — something that's impossible to believe all involved in it didn't know prior to publication — and even the current version fails to tell anyone who didn't figure it out on their own just how exactly to do it.

It's terrible for readers because, if every time someone turns on a light, a respected publication yells "fire!" just to get attention, it increasingly desensitizes people to the point that actual incendiary activity may well get lost and ignored amid all the noise.

It's also a missed opportunity. There's an important discussion to be had when it comes to simplicity vs. discoverability. But it has to be done seriously, and with the goal of informing and empowering people.

Setup Buddy, the process that onboards you to iOS products has grown longer as Apple has added new features, like "Hey, Siri", Apple Pay, the virtual Home button, Display Zoom, and more. Every feature added to the chain makes the process more tedious to long-time customers. Every feature removed makes that feature effectively invisible to new customers.

Reminding people to set up Apple Pay via a badge on Settings or a notification is potentially even more annoying for people who understand what it is and choose not to use it. For those who weren't sure or weren't prepared, it's potentially more helpful, especially considering the experience, accessibility, and security of Apple Pay, which far, far exceed traditional plastic cards.

If Apple is being too heavy-handed here, and too many people find the badge and/or notification annoying, I expect the company will stop it. If many people end up using it and Apple Pay adoption goes up, I expect Apple to (judiciously, I hope) keep experimenting with the on-boarding process across its range of features.

(This particular implementation does feel retro-fitted on, though: The process to dismiss the reminders is non-obvious due to the pre-existing language used in the dialogs, and should be fixed either way.)

Lastly, to make sure I'm practicing what I preach here's how to turn off the Apple Pay reminder:

  1. Tap the red badge on the Settings app icon.
  2. Tap Finish Setting Up Your [iPhone/iPad]
  3. Tap Set Up Apple Pay
  4. Tap Cancel.

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.