Apple made a leap into the contentious ‘buy now pay later’ market through its payments offering and announced a major refresh of CarPlay, while previewing  its upcoming iOS 16 update which includes an overhauled iPhone lock screen.

At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the move into credit services stood out among a raft of announcements, in a move that sees Apple challenge the fintech industry and specifically short-term loan providers like Klarna and Affirm.

Through Apple Pay Later, iPhone and Mac users in the US can buy products from supported retailers, making payments in four instalments over six weeks without being charged interest or fees. It’s offering will use MasterCard’s network at any location and online supporting Apple Pay.

Radio Free Mobile analyst Dr Richard Windsor described the move as “really bad news” for Klarna and Affirm, “who likely now face tough competition from a huge and well-financed player.”

The move could also attract regulatory scrutiny, particularly as concerns rise about consumers taking on short-term credit.

Another major announcement by Apple was a revamped CarPlay offering, as the company looks to move beyond using the service as an infotainment offering and indeed mount a bigger challenge to automakers.

Users of the next-generation of CarPlay will be able to benefit from deeper integration with the vehicle, having access to information including trip information, climate control, weather, fuel and battery levels and more.

“Apple has decided to extend CarPlay into the instrument cluster which adds the ability for users to access vehicle functions and data without ever leaving CarPlay,” noted Windsor. “Despite saying that car makers are excited about this new upgrade, I think that any vehicle maker in its right mind will feel precisely the opposite. I see this as a declaration of war on the OEMs and elevates Apple to be just as threatening as Google to any digital aspirations that vehicle makers have.”

Widgets and iMessage
On to iOS 16, Craig Federigh, SVP of software engineering at Apple and other executives detailed the new features.

“We’re bringing the biggest update ever to the lock screen, completely reimagining how it looks and works for you,” he stated.

Widgets, such as notifications or text messages, will appear below the date and time on the screen so they don’t cover up background photos.

The notifications will roll-in from the bottom of the screen instead of across them.

Customers can tailor the time, date, font, and colour of their lock screens by pressing down on those elements. Different focus modes can also be assigned to multiple lock screens and users can opt for animated backgrounds.

There’s also a “live activities” feature to make it easier for iPhone users to stay in touch with real-time activities.  Users can also choose how they want to filter their notifications. Work-related notifications could appear during the day before switching to personal messages in the evening by swiping.

There are new options on iMessage that allow customers to edit sent messages, un-send messages or mark a message as “unread” if the user wants to read it later.

The new software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 8 and later.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of Apple’s ambitions in the metaverse, in either hardware or software, despite feverish speculation in the tech and financial media.