The Apple rumor sites are buzzing about whether or not the new iPhone will have an NFC chip. For those who don’t know NFC chips are similar to RFID. They allow you to transfer data wirelessly when your phone is very close to another device, often so close you have to tap the phone to the reader physically.
Some Google Android phones have this technology, and Google uses it for their Google Wallet to allow mobile payments. Samsung phone allow you to swap information with other Samsung owners such as photos, apps, etc.
I firmly believe Apple will not be putting NFC on their phones. I used to have high hopes that they would do this, if only to encourage adoption and thus encourage stores to provide the technology. Then I wouldn’t have to lug my wallet around all the time. Let me explain my rationale for why they won’t.
1. Passbook doesn’t use NFC.
Apple has already shown off its mobile wallet technology when they previewed iOS 6 earlier this year. Their passbook software does not use NFC technology. Instead it uses QR codes and visual scanner graphics to transfer information. This allows legacy devices like the iPhone 4 and 4S to use passbook, not just early adopters.
2. Apple has been quietly including Bluetooth 4.0 technology in their devices without using it. The iPhone 4S has a bluetooth 4.0 chip. The new iPad (iPad 3) has a bluetooth 4 chip. But these devices don’t do anything new with the technology that isn’t able to be done using older Bluetooh chips available in older legacy iOS devices.
As we know, Apple does not just include cutting edge tech without a purpose (see: Blu-Ray). I believe they will use Bluetooth 4.0 for data transfers before they ever use NFC.
3. Evidence of Bluetooth use.
Rumor sites are leaking that Apple is going to introduce a way to AirPlay across devices without the use of Wi-Fi. Instead they will use BT 4.0. I think this is part of a larger strategy to utilize the technology they’ve been including to adapt older features, which could connect points 1 and 2 above.