How NFC Could Pair With iOS 6 Passbook for E-Wallet Matrimony
It looks like NFC technology could finally find itself a home, and a wider user base, in the iPhone.
Prototype iPhone models that appear to support NFC suggest Apple’s next iPhone will be NFC-enabled, according to a code dump explored by 9to5Mac. These devices, referred to as iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2, would seem to have NFC controllers directly connected to their power management units, the website reports.
NFC, which stands for near-field communications, lets smartphones wirelessly interact with other objects (including other smartphones) when they’re close to one another. It works using embedded wireless chips in both devices. With NFC, smartphone owners could, for example, tap their phones on a public advertisement to get more information about a product. They could even tap their phones to purchase an item.
Many experts have expected that Apple’s next handset would embrace NFC. A report from Digitimes in November indicated both Apple and Microsoft would adopt NFC in 2012, and half of that has already proven true: Last week, Microsoft announced its upcoming Windows Phone 8 OS would include NFC support.
Apple has also been granted NFC-related patents and revealed an e-wallet icon in patent illustrations, too. This icon could be directly related to Passbook, a new feature in iOS 6 that would benefit from NFC compatibility.
Passbook will collect tickets, cards, boarding passes, and coupon apps all in one place. It will integrate with the iPhone’s location services to give you alerts when you’re near an establishment that you have a card or coupon for, among other things. As described during its WWDC unveiling, Passbook won’t directly process actual payments, but that could change with the addition of NFC.
In its announced iteration, Passbook would let you load up your Starbucks card with money, for example, and then let you pay for items with barcodes displayed on the iPhone’s screen. But NFC could let you pay for that grande macchiato even more easily with just a tap of your iPhone. With Passbook, that tap could also account for any coupons or discounts you’ve collected. Payments could also be tied with your iTunes account through iOS. In November, Forrester analyst Charles Golvin told Wired that Apple could also pair NFC with iAd for richer marketing and advertising scenarios.
NFC could also let iPhone owners share files, apps and photos with one another. Another announced iOS 6 feature, Shared Photo Streams, enables easy group photo sharing, but NFC could add another layer of utility to that feature.
Until now, NFC has seen limited adoption in the United States, primarily in just a handful of Android devices that use Google Wallet. But soon, handsets could be using AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon’s Wallet competitor, Isis, too.
Other than NFC, the next iPhone is reported to sport a larger 4-inch display, possibly with a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels, and will likely be unveiled in September or October.