With the iPhone (News - Alert) 5 expected to launch sometime in the next few months, analysts suspect the new Apple handset will finally feature an NFC chip for self-payments.
In the weeks preceding the launch of the iPhone 4S, rumors mounted that Apple's (News - Alert) latest handset would be equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology, allowing users to make payments by simply waving their device in front of a checkout counter, a vending machine or another NFC-capable gadget. But the rumors were busted; the 4S contained no NFC chip.
So yet another prediction has surfaced in the hallmark feature of the iPhone 5. But this time they have some evidence to back up their claims.
A patent application published late last week introduces a new Apple service – assumed to be included in the iPhone 5 – that could only work with an NFC chip. The patent application, first obtained by Patently Apple, outlines an iTunes gifting program where users can share playlists and purchased media content from one device to another – without the need for a wired connection.
The process seems rather straightforward. The first user selects one or more media files and then "gifts" them to the second user by waving their device in front of the other's handset (or by sending an email).
After accepting a request, the second user will have access to the content via his/her own iTunes account. Judging by the wording of the documentation (and using common sense), Apple will surely charge a fee for transferring content from one device to another.
Historically, sharing content across Apple devices has been extremely difficult – even for users who are willing to pay for the content. At the very least, the new gifting program will provide a way for users to get their hands on a friend's playlist without having to purchase each of song separately via their own iTunes account.
Whether or not the service itself gets you excited, the possible gifting program cannot occur without an NFC chip. This is huge news for future iPhone owners and the NFC movement as a whole. Hundreds of retailers and financial services companies have come on board – and Google (News - Alert) has launched its own initiative – but the NFC boom won't occur until Apple makes its move.
Based on the patent, that time is soon approaching.
Edited by Braden Becker