Today, Apple announced that iPhone 6 and Apple Watch owners will be able to use their devices to pay for meals at many restaurants. According to the Verge, the feature is called Apple Pay it and utilizes technology hilariously dubbed "the Secure Element," a chip that stores encrypted payment information. All users have to do is add a credit card, either from their iTunes account or using the phone's camera. To pay in stores, users will hold their iPhone in front of a reader and then confirm the purchase with Apple's Touch ID system, which verifies a fingerprint via a sensor on the phone. The one-touch checkout system shares no credit card information with the merchant and promises to seriously speed up fast-food lines.
To launch, Apple has partnered with a slew of restaurants, including Subway and McDonald's: At the latter, customers will be able to use Apple Pay at both the walk-in counter and at the drive-thru. Other companies, like Panera, have integrated Apple Pay into their apps, so that customers can pay directly from the app without having to re-enter payment information. According to a press release, reservation powerhouse OpenTable has also partnered with Apple Pay to integrate the technology into its app: "Users can skip adding a card to their profile and simply settle their check with a single touch using iPhone 6."
Apple is far from the first company to attempt to eliminate the need for physical credit cards: Apps like Cover and Settle allow diners to pay their checks at partner restaurants via their smart phones. OpenTable also introduced its own payment feature on its mobile app earlier this Summer, which it plans to expand to 20 cities by the end of the year. Apple Pay is built into the upcoming iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, and Apple Watches but it will not be available until October. The service will also be made available for iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s. Go, watch a video about Apple Pay: