It's hardly rare to read words of praise in the press for Apple. For me that presents a problem, because Apple has to work hard to earn my approval because I don't automatically go for its products.
That's not to say I don't love their hardware, because I do. My problem is that I'm a PC user on Windows, I love gaming on my computer and on my phone I like a bit of flexibility to tweak things and set the handset up as I like. When I do get an Apple device to use, like the iPhone 6 Plus I'm using now, or the iPad Mini I have a blast with it.
What's the point of all that preamble? Well it's to try and assure you that my feelings about Apple Pay aren't just blind loyalty to the brand.
So when I started the Wallet app - I'm using iOS 9 at the moment, for most people it's still called Passbook - and began adding credit and debit cards in I was pleased by what I saw. Apple's system is simple to use in the way it needs to be. Firstly you can just take a photo of the card to get it into the system. Do this in good light and the app should capture all the detail. In my case I had to tweak a few things. The good news is that it also worked with my broken-arse Visa card which needs replacing, but I'm too lazy to call up about.
Once you've got your cards in the process is simple too. You press your finger on the fingerprint scanner and then when you've done that hold the phone near the card reader. In the UK we're lucky and we've had contactless for so long now that most shops can take Apple Pay even if they don't know it.
But I wanted to test it, so I headed out to run some errands and did so intending to pay for everything with my phone.
Pharmacy - a problem straight away, the pharmacy has contactless but wouldn't let me use the phone. I'm WAY too British to argue about things like this, so I just used my debit card instead. The woman serving me said that contactless was fine, but not on phones. I suspect she hadn't be briefed by the card merchant company that it was possible, and let's be honest that's not a huge surprise .
Waitrose - I took my middle class phone into the middle class supermarket to buy some middle class products. All was looking good, and it was self-service so no one was really paying attention to me. I fired up the Wallet app, authorised it and held it near the reader. Annoyingly the pin pad shield got in the way, and I felt too middle class and self conscious to carry on with it. One simply does NOT make a scene in Waitrose.
Starbucks - Good old 'bucks. For all the bad things people say about them and their coffee I find their staff to be the sweetest, nicest and most approachable people in retail. My tactic here was different, I just chatted to the lady serving me about it, and asked if anyone else had tried it. They had not - don't forget it's terribly middle class around here, most people just pay with gold ingots - so I was excited. If I'm honest, I think she was excited too. I held the phone above the reader and BINGO! That's right, I paid for something with a phone. I have officially arrived in the future. So. What are my thoughts. Well, Apple Pay is nice in almost every way. Using it is mind-blowingly simple and it's as slick as you'd expect from Apple. From Apple's side there really isn't anything they could have done better.
The big problem really is with retailers and their card processing companies. For Apple Pay to work it really needs point-of-sale logos and staff to be briefed by their employers (who would be told by their card processors) about using it. When you're talking about small firms it's likely this will take a while, but for the big companies there needs to be memos and such.
I think part of the problem here has been down to Apple not wanting a massive launch. From the lack of promotion I think it's quite clear they want to launch with a small, self-selecting audience who are happy to play around. Once they've given people a chance to talk with friends about it I think we'll see a big push to promote it, then the little shops will get on board.
For now though, when you get it working, Apple Pay is amazing. There is nothing else like it really - unless you consider boring old contactless cards to be in the same league - and it has the potential to revolutionise the way middle class people pay for crispy Waitrose bacon. If you haven't had Waitrose crispy bacon, grab your iPhone and head down and get some, you won't regret it.
Now why not read iOS 9: everything you need to know