Qnary Roundup: Apple Pay, Smartphones, Wearables, and More

Apple Pay Each week, the Qnary team hosts a Friday morning meeting where we discuss the most interesting issues in social media today. Here, we recap those for you.

The Apple Watch and New iPhones: Everything You Need to Know

Apple's big event on Tuesday was jam-packed with new products: the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. The two new iPhones and Apple's entry into the wearables market dominated much of CEO, Tim Cook's keynote, but a number of new software features were also unveiled, including a new platform for mobile payments called Apple Pay.

Apple's first platform for mobile payments, Apple Pay, will be rolling out as an update to iOS 8 in October. It will be compatible with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and, eventually, the Apple Watch. Each watch can be customized with a number of interchangeable bands, including a special sport band for exercising. Apple Watch is expected to go on sale in early 2015 and will begin at $349. Both new iPhones, which will be available in gold, white and "space gray," go on sale in the United States on Sept. 19; pre-orders begin on Friday. (via Mashable)

What Apple Pay Means for Marketers

Apple Watch was certainly the shiniest object in the room at Apple's big event Tuesday, and there are, no doubt, interesting opportunities for brands to play into its functionality. But Apple Pay, a new mobile payment system, presents many opportunities for marketers looking to reach and influence consumers at a most crucial point: purchasing.Quite simply, it will be more enjoyable to shop on mobile phones. Thus, marketers should take another look at their e-commerce experiences by making them beautifully and thoughtfully designed to encourage adoption and repeat usage.

Although a connection wasn't mentioned in Apple's keynote, it's likely that the contents in Apple’s “Passbook,” will be integrated with Pay, meaning stored coupons, promotional offers and loyalty programs could be integrated into the Pay checkout process. Brands should take another look at Passbook -- how and where their apps can offer promotional integration that drives brand preference and purchase.

Apple Pay may not be a sexy addition to your wrist or a long-awaited upgrade to your smartphone, but it does ease and encourage something all marketers can appreciate: the act of purchasing. Apple did the heavy lifting, now it's up to us to explore how to create experiences around this new approach to shopping. (via AdAge)

BlackBerry May Be Working on a Smartwatch of its Own

Apple, Motorola and Samsung aren't the only companies with their sights set on wearables. BlackBerry, the smartphone maker that always seems to be just a little late to the party, may also be close to stepping into the world of wearable tech, according to CEO John Chen.

While Chen's comments are far from definitive, the fact that BlackBerry is even considering entering the still nascent wearables market is an interesting move for the company.

Under the leadership of Chen, who began as CEO in November, the company has been attempting a comeback by doubling down on efforts to reach customers in emerging markets, appealing to those who want smartphones with physical keyboards and ramping up its app offerings through a partnership with Amazon. (via Mashable)

Google Acquires Social Polling Startup Polar to Improve Google+ Design 

Google is buying the social polling startup, Polar, the companies announced Thursday. Google did not disclose the terms of the acquisition but said Polar founder, Luke Wroblewski and his team would be brought on to work with the Google+ team.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Luke Wroblewski and the talented Polar team to Google," Dave Besbris, Google's VP of engineering for Google+ said in a statement. "They’ll be working with our designers and engineers to help us make G+ as beautiful and simple to use as possible, especially on mobile devices."

It appears the Polar app, which allows users to create simple customized polls, will remain online through the end of the year. "We’re keeping our publisher tools available until the end of 2014," Polar said in a statement on their website. "We’ve also built a simple way to download and save an archive of your Polar polls and data — they’re yours after all."

Though neither company said definitively what would happen to the app, Google acquisitions tend to result in the original app being shuttered or effectively ignored. (via Mashable)

If You Block an Ad, Facebook Now Wants to Know Why

Facebook wants to know why users decide to block certain sponsored posts in an effort to serve more relevant ads in the News Feed. The social network has always let users hide unwanted ads, but now the site will ask a series of questions about why.

When users click on a sponsored post to block it, they're asked, "Why don't you want to see this?" Was it because you found it irrelevant, offensive, annoying? Facebook says responses from relatively few people will increase the relevance of ads for all users.

Also, Facebook has been testing another new feature—vanishing posts. This week, some iPhone Facebook app users started trying out expiration dates on posts so the statuses automatically delete, removed from the permanent digital record.

The Next Web was the first to see images of the vanishing posts. It reports that users are asked if they want their posts to expire within minutes or within a week. The expiring posts appear to be a response to changing social media use, especially among young people who no longer want a lasting record of all their digital activities. (via AdWeek)