All Posts By Rob Thomas
Broken livestream be damned, Apple barreled bravely forward with their highly anticipated press conference today in California. One of the biggest announcements to come out of it was the reveal of the new Apple Pay virtual wallet service.
Relying on an NFC chip mounted inside the top edge of both the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay will allow consumers to do away with all of the fumbling around with silly, outdated ideas like cards, IDs, and security codes. Working in combination with the Touch ID sensor located in the Home button, Apple Pay will theoretically make the payment methods stored in your stolen phone useless to thieves – unless they get the bright idea to begin lopping off fingers, I suppose. But even if that should be the case, there’s no need to cancel your cards on your way to the hospital as payments from the device can be shut off via Find My iPhone. Pretty nice to not have to deal with that whole hassle, I would say.
Apple Pay integrates with Passbook and can import the credit card that users already have on file with iTunes. Using the iPhone’s camera, they can also snap pictures of their other cards to add them to the options on file as well, but apparently the credit card number itself is stored on neither the device, nor Apple’s servers. Instead, each transaction will be authorized by a one-time use unique transaction number and a dynamic, shifting security code. Let’s hope this calms fears of trusting cash to the cloud in the wake of last week’s leaked celebrity selfie disaster.
Starting off, Apple Pay will work with all three of the major credit card providers (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover), as well as pretty much all of the major U.S. banks, totaling 83% of the consumer purchase volume. There are also deals in place for a growing number of retailers, restaurants, and other folks who want your money to use Apple Pay as it launches. McDonalds, Panera, Whole Foods, Walgreens, Staples, and more are already involved, with Disney, Chipotle, Sephora, Nordstrom, and others due by the end of the year.
Apple Pay is only available with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and is due to roll out in the U.S. this October, with the rest of the world still to be announced. Provided they can actually suss out the security issues, I have to admit this does sound like a pretty neat idea. A growing number of retailers have NFC readers at their point-of-sale and it certainly beats having to fumble with your ID when that one store decides to ask for it when a dozen others never bother.
What do you think? Are you ready to abandon your actual wallets just yet and trust that your iPhone’s battery won’t die during a particularly long day out? Let us know how you feel below.
For the first time since its release (which has thankfully been a much shorter window for iPad players than their PC counterparts), Blizzard’s wildly successful Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft CCG is sporting some brand new content: the single player “adventure” mode, Curse of Naxxramas. Based on the World of Warcraft raid dungeon of the same name, Naxxramas is divided up into various themed quarters: the Arachnid, Plague, Military, and Construct Quarters, and ending with the Frostwyrm Lair. Naxxramas’ Arachnid Quarter opened up this week and I brushed back the cobwebs to peek inside.
The three challenges of the Arachnid Quarter come in the forms of the Spider Lord Anub’Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina, and the giant spider Maexxna – sure to give anyone with arachnophobia a severe case of the creepy-crawlies. Each boss has their own special 2 mana “class” power, from summoning minions (Anub’Rekhan), to sending random minions back to a player’s hand (Maexxna), to firing randomly assigned magic damage based on how many cards the player is holding (Faerlina). There are also Heroic versions of the same fights, where the dungeon bosses start off with a massive 45 life to the player’s paltry 30 – while also sporting enhanced versions of their powers. Summoning a 4/4 minion for 2 mana? Yeah, that seems incredibly well-balanced. Good luck!
There are also two Class Challenges, where players are pitted against Naxxramas’ bosses with pre-built class-specific decks. Rogue and Druid are the two classes on offer this time, with the Rogue facing Faerlina while the Druid takes on Maexxna. Other Class Challenges will unlock as the weeks roll on, of course. It would be nice to see these with their own Heroic variants too, but in some cases that could get dangerously close to overkill.
All of the battles in this wing of Naxxramas feel fresh and interesting. The new graphics for the playing area feature fun little interactive elements and there’s a ton of new voiceover work, including new lines for plenty of existing Hearthstone cards. In particular, the running commentary between matches from Naxxramas’ resident Lich Lord, Kel’Thuzad, is funny – almost at odds with the presumed tone of the new area. Then again, Hearthstone has never been afraid to be light and goofy. A lot of the new cards on display bank heavily on Battlecry and Deathrattle effects (SO many Deathrattles!). Also, with a number of new Beast subtype cards, Beast-themed Hunter decks have just received a huge boost.
The other wings of Curse of Naxxramas begin opening, one by one, starting next week with the Plague Quarter. Each wing costs $6.99 (with bundles available at a discounted price) or 700 in-game gold – but, sadly, no bundles), so you’d better start farming those daily Quests for gold now. However, keep in mind Quests only advance via Play or Arena mode – time spent in the depths of Naxxramas doesn’t count toward their completion. So what are you waiting for, adventurer? Get back out there and sling some cards!
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