Apple Pay is finally here

American Express is the first credit card company in Singapore to implement Apple Pay. As an Amex user (who recently signed up to take advantage of the 5% cash rebate on the first $5000 spend, spending most of it on my recent Iceland trip) I got to task in keying my credit card information on iOS’s wallet app. The registration was dead simple and in no time at all, my credit card information was safely stored in my phone. I went to my nearby NTUC Fairprice supermarket, where it is one of the first few merchants to fully support Apple Pay and made my first purchase using my phone. It was magical and painless. I simply had to double tap my phone while in sleep mode and it immediately asked for my fingerprint to be scanned. Soon, once verified, I pointed my phone to the NFC payment device and immediately the phone gave a subtle vibration to notify you that the payment transaction was complete. And after that, the phone showed the purchase transaction I made in the wallet app.

Currently, Topshop, Topman, NTUC Fairprice supermarket, Starhub, Uniqlo and Starbucks are just some of a few merchants supporting Apple Pay, but my guess is that any merchant that supports American Express cards AND have the NFC payment device at the cash register would be able to use Apple Pay without any problems. Visa and associated local banks like OCBC, UOB and DBS will be implementing their credit cards to Apple Pay. Competitors like Samsung Pay is also rolling out its payment system sometime this year soon.

I really look forward to registering more of my credit cards to the wallet app in the future, and making payments using a smartphone as ubiquitous as swiping the credit card in the past.

 

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Apps and smartphones have fundamentally changed the way we plan our travels

With the advent of smartphones and apps, we have fundamentally changed the way we plan and manage our travel itineraries. From the way we book our air tickets, our accommodations, to how we get tips and advice on local tourist destinations to even getting access to the different modes of transportation, to how we manage our packing list when packing for our trip. At every step, we have leveraged on the use of our smartphone and the apps that come with it to make travel planning much easier.

For example from my typical experience when planning a trip, I would first open my Skyscanner app to look for great air ticket deals and compare different airline’s air ticket prices, flight durations and the number of transit stops I have to make before reaching my destination. I can also compare prices within the week to select the best days of travel.

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To book my accommodation I would use either the Hostelworld app to book hostels, Airbnb for homestay, or Agoda app to book hotels.

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When I’m actually about to purchase my air tickets, I would allow App in the Air to manage my air ticket ticket reservations and notify me of my upcoming travels.

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Days before flying off, I would use various packing lists app to make sure I have packed everything I needed to pack for my trip.

Before flying off, I would check the local weather using the Apple Weather app, or their local weather app to check on the weather and temperature to make sure I have enough warm clothing if I am travelling to a cold country.

And since I am travelling to Iceland soon as we speak, I use the Aurora Forecast app to find out the best nights to camp out and catch the northern lights.

If I need to check out what are some of the interesting attractions I need to see and visit, I open the TripAdvisor app to look at reviews and ratings of various establishments and attractions available in the local vicinity.

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If I need to catch a cab, I use Uber or GrabTaxi if it is available locally. If I’m in a big city with a complex network of subways and trains like Seoul or Tokyo, I use the subway app to that I don’t get lost in transit. If I rent a car and got lost, I would refer to Google Maps to bring me to my correct destination.

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If I need something translated I use Wordlens app to translate on the fly. If I need to say a particular phrase or word, I refer to the various language app available for smartphones.

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If I see something interesting and I want to take a picture or a video, my smartphone will do the trick. I can make the pictures I took nicer by using various filter apps available and post it on Instagram for all to see. I can use my tumblr or Facebook app to share my travel experience in real time. I can use FaceTime or WhatsApp chat to communicate with my friends and family overseas. I can also blog about it, using Tumblr, or Day One app to chronicle my day to day travels.

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And the list goes on and on. The apps I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of apps to book all kinds of accommodation for your travels. Similarly, there are all kinds of social media apps to share your travel experience with the world as well as travel portal app to get local info.

We have fundamentally changed the way we plan and book our travel itinerary. Almost everything can be done with the smartphone.

 

Nexus 7 2014 tablet; 7 months on

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I bought the nexus 7 tablet more than half a year back. It was cheap, and it was at that time the all-round best performing android tablet. Even I’m a hardcore Apple fan, I gave the iPad a miss due to several reasons. One, being that I foresee myself not using the tablet as often as my smartphone, so it didn’t make sense for me to spend so much more on a device that would ultimately be underutilized.

And I was right. 7 months on, and looking back, I barely used my tablet anymore. I only use it for one purpose 95% of the time; the read my kindle books. Reading on a bigger tablet screen, is a better experience than on a smartphone. Though I still read it on my smartphone while commuting to work everyday. I only read it on my tablet while I’m at home. Other than that, it just sits there on my coffee table not doing anything. Largely underutilised, I am glad I made the right decision in buying a cheap android tablet than an iPad.

That doesn’t mean that I hate the tablet. I love it. It has a gorgeous screen with colors that pop right out. But I still haven’t seen a need to incorporate another device who purpose largely overlaps with that of a smartphone. And I own the iPhone 6, a fantastic smartphone that is extremely capable. On the productivity side, I guess I am still a PC centric person. I find working using the PC much more productive than on a tablet. I appreciate the potential for tablet to improves one’s lives. Its apps offering are limitless. But still my lifestyle just doesn’t have any room for a tablet.