Apple device update season is near and, like clockwork, the rumor mill has kicked in high gear. The latest evidence points to a September unveiling of the next iPhone, a smaller version of the iPad, and the long-rumored Apple HDTV. Those last two are debatable, but the iPhone 5 is all but certain, and it’s expected to include the hot technology known as near field communication. From payments to gameplay, here’s how an NFC-equipped iPhone could change your life.
Near field communication is a short-range wireless protocol already used by some smartphones and other devices. A younger cousin to RFID, the technology is like a lower-power, shorter-distance version of Bluetooth. That might not sound like a big deal, but it opens up exciting possibilities.
People who watch Apple’s patent-filing activity know that the company has been thinking about NFC for a few years. While the technology has already found its way into a few popular mobile handsets, its arrival in the iPhone is worthy of special attention, if only because of the popularity of Apple’s line of smartphones. The company is uniquely poised to popularize this new technology because its devices are so widely adopted and its user experience is typically polished to perfection.
Here are things an NFC-enabled iPhone could let you do:
1. Pay For Things By Waving Your Phone
Many in the tech world have been eagerly anticipating mobile payments. NFC-powered payments won’t be commonplace for a while, but Apple’s adoption of the technology would be a critical milestone in that journey.
Google has already planted its own NFC seeds with Google Wallet. The mobile payments service recently removed one of its biggest obstacles by adding support for all credit and debit cards. Other players, from startups like Square and LevelUp to credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard, are carefully carving out their future pieces of this pie as well.
Once the iPhone gets NFC, the two biggest smartphone platforms will support the technology, which many retailers have already been supporting. For users who own compatible handsets, mobile payments are inching closer to everyday reality. Retailers are starting to jump on the bandwagon. Apple’s PassBook, included in iOS 6, is clearly just the first iteration of its mobile wallet.
2. Use Your Phone as a Game Controller
Apple’s most recent NFC-related patent refers to iOS devices being used as game controllers. It sounds like a fun – and inevitable – use for NFC-equipped iPhones and iPads. But it’s only the beginning.
NFC allows game developers to bridge the gap between virtual worlds and the physical one. NFC-enhanced versions of popular mobile games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja have already provided a glimpse of the future. In Angry Birds Magic, for instance, players can unlock new levels and rewards by waving their phone in front of NFC tags that can be found in official merchandise and in specific physical locations.
Whether by tapping their phones against NFC-enabled stickers or through direct device-to-device communication, gamers can expect NFC to change the way they play.
3. Control Home Appliances From Your Phone
In addition to turning iOS devices into game controllers, Apple envisions a world in which iPhones and iPads can be used to control household appliances. Televisions are an obvious example. You can already use your iDevice to control set top boxes like the Apple TV and Boxee Box, and Apple reportedly has much bigger plans for living rooms.
NFC offers another potential way for smartphones to connect with networked appliances. Televisions are just the start. We already have connected thermostats, lightbulbs, window shades and refrigerators, and the list of connected household appliances is bound to grow. Need to know which groceries to pick up at the store? An NFC chip in your smart refrigerator could tell your iPhone which items you’re low on and import them as a list into Reminders or another app.
4. Use Your iPhone as a House Key
NFC is already used in electronic door locks, but typically with proprietary key cards that, frankly, are just another item to lose. As long as we’re merging our wallets with our phones, why not get rid of a few keys as well? NFC-enabled smartphones can unlock front doors and offices. Of course, there are serious security considerations that need to be ironed out before this is feasible, but it’s nothing a little facial recognition or mobile fingerprinting solution couldn’t fix down the road.
Another use for NFC that’s already being tested is as means to pay for mass transit. Last year, Germany’s primary mass transit agency – the second biggest in the world – announced that it would roll out NFC-enabled mobile payments. Meanwhile, New York City started testing a similar system in a pilot program launched two years ago. That initiative doesn’t utilize NFC, but once the technology is more widely adopted, expect to see it used in subway terminals around the world.
Source: Alltop RSS