Apple’s iOS 14 drops today, which means a bunch of new features are coming to your iPhone. Among the batch of goodies to be found in the update is the release of App Clips, which could help accelerate the adoption of mobile contactless payments across the food retail and restaurant space.
We covered App Clips back when the service was announced at Apple’s WWDC event. In a nutshell, App Clips allows you to pull down just a portion of a native mobile app to give you its basic functionality, without needing to download and set up the full app.
Let’s say, for example, you are at a Starbucks but don’t have the Starbucks app installed on your iPhone. Normally, you’d have to download the full app, set up an account and then enter a payment method before you could even start your order. Through App Clips, you can grab just enough of the Starbucks app to order and pay. No need to download the full app, no need for an account and since it uses Apple Pay, no need to enter credit card information.
The big limitation right now is that a cafe, restaurant or retailer has to be participating the program and developed an App Clip. But if/when they do, App Clips can be opened by scanning QR codes, tapping NFC tags, or opening links via Apple services like Messages or Safari. For a full run down of how App Clips works, check out this post from 9 to 5 Mac.
App Clips is definitely arriving at the right time. The COVID-19 pandemic’s sustained presence here in the U.S. is pushing cafes, restaurants and grocery stores towards more contactless payment systems in an attempt to reduce human-to-human contact.
There are a ton of companies bringing contactless payment tech to market. Order for Me, PayJunction and Bbot are among the many startups building contactless payment systems for restaurants. Kroger launched a contactless payment pilot at its QFC store in Seattle last month. And there are a number of other companies doing contactless 2.0, basically through holograms, voice control and pay with your face.
The difference with App Clips, though, is Apple’s massive iPhone installed base. If this catches on, and given it’s utility (no downloading full apps just to get a cup of coffee!), that seems very possible, it could spur vast numbers of people to switch to contactless mobile payments. We just need to see if Apple has the right, well, touch.