To make this more understandable, the patent is similar to how S Beam works and how it is different from Android Beam. The latter uses an NFC hook up to send data from once device to another. More similar to Apple's patent, S Beam uses NFC to set up communications between two Samsung devices and then uses a Wi-Fi Direct connection to send data from one phone to another.
Apple's patent, US Patent No. 8,458,363, is for a "System and method for simplified data transfer" and is 84 pages long. In the application, Apple discussed things like syncing data from the open applications on another device and storing the data in the cloud. Does the patent mean that Apple will soon add NFC support to its devices? It would seem possible that Apple could use the technology to allow users of more than one Apple device to transfer files between each one wirelessly.
source: USPTO via AppleInsider