Open thread: What happened when you used your Apple Watch to pay for something?

Interesting things happen when you use new technology in public for the first time.

We bought some coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts’ drive-thru last week with our Apple Watch via Passbook (Dunkin’ Donuts cards use QR codes).

The DD employee just looked at the arm being held out for her to scan and didn’t know what to make of it, even though the QR was visible right there. We just stared at each other for a bit until asking her, “Can you just shoot the Watch?” Then she got it.

While scanning the QR code, she said, “Hey, that’s cool! That’s the first Apple Watch we’ve ever seen here.” The Passbook transaction worked perfectly and, usefully, when the Apple Watch displays a QR code, the display stays on until it’s dismissed by the wearer. It would be an awful experience otherwise with the display turning off before or during a scanning attempt. Whatever small battery hit is incurred by leaving the display on until the user turns it off is well worth the convenience.

Yet another example of Apple sweating the user experience and making sure “it just works.”

(BTW, there has to be a better way for drive-thru’s to operate than by having people lean out of windows with corded scanning guns. Some company is going to get rich making a simple shaded weather-proof scanner that can be attached outside drive-thru windows. Customers just hold their Watch or iPhone under it and voilà!)

So, did anything interesting happen when you used your Apple Watch to pay for something?


  1. “Manager! Mr. Peters! Uh this dude wants to pay with his watch? I told him cash or card only.”

    “I’m sorry sir let me help you.”

    Apple Watch beeps, hands me my food and I’m on my way.

    Training is paramount people!

  2. Yesterday I paid for lunch at a Microsoft cafeteria, but no one even noticed. The cashier asked me for my 3 digit security number off the back of my card (which I have memorized since for some reason, that information isn’t transmitted with the purchase.) It was all so easy, once I figured out what to do to invoke the payment. (I didn’t bother reading how it worked, just figured it out on the spot.)

    I had tried to pay for breakfast, but I didn’t realize I had to add a card to the watch, since during the setup I selected “Mirror my iPhone” in Passbook, and I assumed that would transfer my debit/credit cards to the watch.

    Incidentally, I have heard more than one person (myself included) refer to the watch in conversation as “my phone” for some reason. Anyone else have that happen?

  3. At TSA the Agent said, Do It Do it, That’s the first one we’ve seen. That’s so cool. the Other Agent said what just happened and the first one explained it to him.

    At Starbucks, the barista said did you just scan your watch?

    At boarding time, the Agent was like ‘wheres your boarding pass’ in a pissed voice, then he heard the beep and said, ‘oh, that’s pretty cool’.

  4. Used the Starbucks and Tim Hortons cards via Passbook on my watch with no problems. The first time that I used my watch at my local Timmy’s, the girl flipped out….And thought it was so cool to pay with the watch.

  5. I ended up being the star for a moment at my vet office. I saw that they had an NFC keypad and tried it, and suddenly everyone, including the two vets in the office, wanted to take a look and see what else my watch could do. Moments like that will sell watches. 🙂

    1. Did you use the Uber app or Apple Pay? I’m curious because I don’t live in a town with Uber, and haven’t traveled to one since getting the watch. I’m interested to know how well Uber works on the watch.

      1. I used Uber for the first time last week and I was really impressed. I thought at rust I had to use the app on my phone to call a car, but then I discovered you only need that to set your destination. If you just bring up Uber on your watch there’s a single button to request a car with a number of how many minutes away the car is located. Push the button and a car is coming. You never have to fumble with your phone.

        Also nice to get texts or phone calls from the driver right on my watch!

  6. Paid for my groceries at Whole foods, it worked the 1st time perfectly, because its my Debit card , I had to enter my PIN as if I swiped my card. It worked flawlessly.

  7. I used my watch to pay yesterday for the first time.

    I don’t do a lot of shopping (our home manager – “mom” – does that. So I was making a company purchase yesterday and was notified that no credit cards were set up on my watch yet…So I paid with my 6+.

    I simply assumed that they would connect – never crossed my mind that I would have to set all of my cards up again.

    I’m at a phase in my life (new home, job requires lots of my attention) where i’m not exploring every minutiae of features, functions, etc. So, because I don’t make a lot of purchases – the places I go don’t accept apple pay – I found out the disappointing way I had to set my cards up again.

    1. I believe they have it set up this way because you do NOT need your phone in your pocket to pay. I haven’t actually tried this yet to be sure, but I think that’s the deal. Therefore they want to be sure you have security on your watch as well, since it’s basically a whole different way to pay than your phone. Has anyone paid for goods without their phone in tow?

  8. First time I panicked, I didn’t know how to activate Passbook without diving into the app screen (push the large button twice) I assumed it would auto-activate when it sense NFC like the iPhone. Of course, I was at a self-paying checkout, so no one saw me. The next time, a woman saw me and she said “that was so cool!”

  9. I have used my Apple Watch to pay for something about five times now. What amazes me the most is that not only am I the first they have seen use it, but most cashiers have not even heard of the Apple Watch. A common response is “Wow did you just pay for that with your watch?” Each time I have used it, it has performed flawlessly. So far, I have not encountered anybody else that has Apple Watch. I live in the Portland Oregon metro area so I am sure there must be others that are fortunate enough to have an Apple watch, but so far I have not seen or met anybody with an Apple watch besides me.

  10. Paid at Starbucks several times without incident (one barista vowed that the coolness involved was way over his head) except that the display shut down when I rolled my watch sideways to present it to the scanner. It’s done that a couple of times. I just tap it and it wakes right up on the same screen, so no big deal.

  11. For 2 months ago a local Mexican restaurant chain got new Pay compatible terminals without being told they are. Employees refused to let me try to Pay. Said they weren’t Pay compatible. Their bank is Bank of America – a charter Pay member.😨

    So Tuesday I finally tracked down the owner of the chain via his cell phone number an employee gave me. He also told me they weren’t Pay compatible. Then I spent all morning – 5 different wrong referral phone numbers among BofA employees – tracking down a Bank of America merchant services employee who found their account and told me they are Pay compatible. He then offers to call the owner and tell him. Turns out the local BofA employee who placed the new terminals didn’t mention Pay because he “didn’t think it was that big of a deal”.😖

    So I called the owner and gave him the Apple Pay hot line for FREE promotional materials (door and register stickers) 800.854.3680 . The above B of A merchant services employee also didn’t know about the free Pay promotional stickers from Apple and was happy to get the phone number from me.😱

    Thursday night the owner emailed me to tell me they are ready to take Pay payments and are getting the promotional stickers from Apple today. So here’s an example of the need for proactive participation among us fanatics to get owners of small businesses to know what they have already installed in their stores and to promote Pay there with free help from Apple.👀💥🎉😃👍✨

    1. There is a liquor store, and a vet I use, both of which have Apple pay, and neither of which knew it. I just used my phone (was a couple months ago) and they were like wow, what did you just do? I explained, and they were good with it. I’d suggest not asking, just paying that way if the terminal looks like it’ll take ApplePay. My 2 cents.

  12. 1st time I used the watch was a ‘bux, with Passbook, and nobody noticed which I thought was kind of nice, actually. 2nd time the guy said “oh, nice, you got one!” I used Apple Pay at Staples and that caused quite a stir – “oh, cool, let me see! How do you like it?” I told them I like it – I like it a lot 😉

    Most interesting time with Apple Pay was with my 6+ at a pizzeria in NJ, right after it came out. It was staffed with the owner’s school-age kid and her friends – none of them had seen Apple Pay yet so I gave them a walk-through, explaining everything – hold the phone here, see how the Touch ID prompt comes up? Then just place your thumb here, and boom! “That’s so cool!”

    Both Passbook and Apple Pay worked perfectly every time. It’s a great system.

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