Gruber, Apple Pay, and a dark pattern

From this Wall Street Journal Journal article:

Users who opt not to input credit-card information for Apple Pay when setting up their phones now constantly see the red circle over their settings icon, indicating their setup is incomplete. Some users also periodically get notification reminders that go away only once they start the enrollment process.

To me, this is a dark pattern, something we happened to write about yesterday in this post, The terrible scourge of Dark Patterns.

John Gruber responds to Mickle’s WSJ article in this excellent Daring Fireball post:

Mickle has a point here. This does annoy people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to set up Apple Pay. There is a way to dismiss the red badge, but it’s not obvious how, because the button you have to tap says “Set Up Apple Pay”. (After that, you tap “Cancel” or “Set Up Later in Wallet”.) It is inscrutably counterintuitive to need to tap a button that says “Set Up Apple Pay” when your intention is to stop being nagged to set it up because you don’t want to set up Apple Pay.

A dark pattern, right? To me, if Apple is going to red dot persist you into signing up or not, better for the user to force the decision up front. In or out, your choice, thank you for your time.

Moving on, Gruber gets to the heart of the Apple Pay issue, adoption:

I do think Apple has a marketing problem with Apple Pay, though. I can tell from talking to family members that a lot of people just don’t see why they should try Apple Pay, because they have no idea how it works or why they’d want to use it. And I think they worry that because it’s new and sort of science-fiction-y it will make their credit card more likely to be hacked, when the truth is the opposite. I think Apple needs more ads that explain and demonstrate the convenience and indisputable security advantages of using Apple Pay instead of a credit card, and the extraordinary convenience of Apple Pay Cash. I can see how a lot of people think, “Eh, I’ll just keep using my credit card” when they’re paying for something in a retail store. But Apple Pay Cash could be enough to get these people to set up Apple Pay.

Coincidentally, Apple just posted a terrific series of Apple Pay ads (watch them here). I think John is spot-on here. The value of Apple Pay is wildly under-appreciated. Though Apple is pushing to brand Apple Pay as a cool shiny, it has not pushed across the message of Apple Pay’s safety, security. Possibly because safety and security is boring. It’s critically important, but it’s tough to make the point in any sort of entertaining way.