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Business News/ Technology / News/  Apple unveils installment pay plan, CarPlay update in push beyond iPhone

Apple unveils installment pay plan, CarPlay update in push beyond iPhone


Tech giant also introduces changes to iMessage, including an undo-send function, and new MacBook Air

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Apple unveiled a buy-now-pay-later feature integrated into its Apple Pay offering and the promise of expanding CarPlay into more functions of the car (AFP)Premium
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Apple unveiled a buy-now-pay-later feature integrated into its Apple Pay offering and the promise of expanding CarPlay into more functions of the car (AFP)

Apple Inc. introduced software changes Monday that aim to further expand its reach beyond the iPhone, including by boosting its payment system and car connectivity.

The tech giant used the kickoff of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference to preview coming changes to its software for laptops, smartphones and tablets. It was a mix of morale booster for third-party developers that help fuel the digital ecosystem for its devices and an opportunity to preview how its own software will change later this year when officially rolled out.

Apple unveiled a buy-now-pay-later feature integrated into its Apple Pay offering and the promise of expanding CarPlay into more functions of the car.

Other changes revealed on Monday aimed at improving favorite Apple offerings. Software changes will allow the higher-end iPad to better multitask among different apps, introduce edit and recall abilities to iMessage and enable iPhones to be used automatically as web cameras with their Apple computers, which have lesser quality cameras.

After years of introducing new privacy and security features, Apple announced the so-called Passkey that will use its Touch ID and Face ID to create biometric verification for websites and apps.

The hardware highlight came with the debut of Apple’s in-house silicon dubbed M2, announcing the chip to be used first in a new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro that the company says will be faster and more efficient than previous versions. The completely redesigned 13.6-inch-screen MacBook Air laptop has a sharper-edged look more in line with the newest iPhones and an improved camera. The Air will begin at $1,199 and goes on sale next month.

By its very nature, the event, known as WWDC, never commands as much attention as an iPhone event, yet the new software features and policies can have far-reaching effects.

Monday’s keynote is the highest profile event of the weeklong program for developers, held mostly online, via the company’s website and including 175 sessions. Apple had invited several hundred people to participate in person at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., where they had to meet certain conditions around vaccinations and testing.

Before turning to a prerecorded presentation, Chief Executive Tim Cook greeted the crowd gathered outside in person: “It’s so wonderful to see you all in person."

Two years ago, as the global pandemic was shutting down daily life for many, Apple helped set the tone for virtual gatherings around the world as it transitioned its large-scale convention-center event to a virtual one. The company served as an example to other companies and organizations taking their first steps into the new world of remote events.

The pandemic helped fuel record profit for Apple as workers and students bought laptops, iPhones and tablets to augment their quarantine experience. The company’s first iPhone with 5G cellular-data capability generated record sales of $191 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September.

Hurt by parts shortages and factory shutdowns in China related to Covid safety precautions, iPhone sales are expected to be stagnant this quarter compared with a year earlier. In total, analysts surveyed by FactSet on average predict iPhone revenue to rise 6.2% this fiscal year, after climbing 39% in the prior year.

Apple’s biggest area of growth this year is expected to come from the services category, which includes money generated from the App Store and Apple’s ad business. Services sales by some estimates might rise nearly 17% to $80 billion. That would be more than the combined sales of iPad and Mac computers, and rank second to Apple’s iPhone business.

Those close Apple watchers looking for any hints regarding the company’s planned extended-reality headset were left disappointed. As expected, no plans were revealed. Production of the device is expected to begin later this year or early next year, and would bring about Apple’s most highly anticipated new product since the introduction of the company’s Apple Watch in the fall of 2014.

The ability to edit sent text messages, or recall them, is a significant change for Apple’s iMessage service, which the company has built into one of the world’s most widely used social networks. Users can edit or recall a message for up to 15 minutes after sending it, Apple said. It will also be possible to mark text messages on the platform as unread.

Apple’s entry into buy-now-pay-later is likely to stir greater competition. The market for such services has exploded in recent years. The top five app providers downloaded through Apple’s App Store and Alphabet Inc.’s Google Play Store, including Affirm and Klarna, collectively had an estimated 7.5 million monthly active users in May, a 44% increase from a year earlier, according to researcher Sensor Tower. Shares of Affirm Holdings Inc., a platform that offers installment payment plans for consumer purchases, fell by more than 3% Monday after Apple’s announcement.

Apple"s share price rose by less than 1% Monday.

Apple Pay Later will be available wherever Apple Pay is accepted online or in-app using the Mastercard network. Users will be able to split the cost of a purchase into four equal payments spread over six weeks without interest or fees, the company said.

Other changes to Apple Pay included allowing merchants to take payment between iPhone taps.

Apple’s car ambitions were also on display Monday. The company said it is working with car makers, including Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., to expand capabilities of its CarPlay, which connects users’ iPhones to their vehicles’ dashboards. The updated system would allow Apple’s system to become involved in some traditionally core features not touched by third-party systems, such as the instrument cluster behind the wheel.

Apple said CarPlay would enable users to tune the radio and change the car temperature without leaving CarPlay—a longstanding complaint. Vehicles with the new connectivity will be announced late next year, Apple said.

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