iPhone 5 to have NFC, after all, secure guest login and mobile payment tests in the works

iPhone 5 to have NFC, after all, secure guest login and mobile payment tests in the works
The rumor that Apple's next iPhone will sport a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip inside, has been persistent ever since this field started getting some traction last year, with the US carriers announcing the ISIS mobile payment platform development, and Google starting city trials with the Nexus S and its embedded NFC chip. These chips are used for contactless payments, remote login and access-granting, as well as tag-reading. You can read more about the technology and current players in our mobile payment editorial here.

Apple was even said to eye the purchase of BOKU, and be in talks with Gemalto, the Dutch mobile security giant, which has NFC solutions, and is participating in a number of mobile payment trials throughout Europe. These talks, however, were reportedly mostly about an embedded SIM card option for the next iPhone, which would allow buyers to choose their own carrier and switch at will by downloading software from the App Store. The programmable SIM idea was then supposedly shot, since the European carriers sensed the danger to become mere dumb pipes for voice and data traffic, and threatened to cut subsidies for the iPhone if Apple ploughs ahead with the embedded SIM option.

Recently the NFC-enabled iPhone option was also dismissed, at least for this year's edition, with the backing that Apple will wait for the standard to become more uniform and widespread. Apple's name, however, appeared in an E-wallet presentation not long ago, and an E-wallet iOS icon was spotted in a patent filing. One unnamed source has now confirmed for Forbes that Apple actually didn't can the NFC chip for the iPhone 5. On the contrary, since the source works for NFC equipment company, he mentioned how an Apple contact confirmed an NFC chip tests with the handset, and also that the manufacturers of NFC readers are preparing for the additional demand that will be created by this NFC-enabled iPhone.

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On a unrelated rumor, a contactless chip for payments, access and login is indeed being tested in several iPhone prototypes, but this time for remote computing made possible with your phone. The idea is that when you are near any Mac that supports this capability, your iPhone connects securely with the NFC chip to it, and the icons of the apps you've purchased from the Mac App Store, appear on the desktop, ready to be downloaded on first use. Furthermore, if you work on some document, it will automatically sync with MobileMe, so you can continue home where you left off. Disconnect the NFC link between the iPhone and the computer by simply taking your phone away, and all the info about your session there disappears.

We, however, have known about iPhone prototypes being tested with NFC way back in 2009, doing mobile payment trials in Hong Kong and other places (see the video about the HK test and iMoney app below), so it's anyone's guess to what extent all these services will be hardwired into this year's iPhone, or be entirely left for the 2012 edition.

Apple, however, shouldn't miss the boat this year - the market will get flooded with NFC-equipped Android devices, bada phones, and, possibly, Nokia Windows Phones, before next summer, unless Cupertino plans to introduce a shorter refresh cycle for the iPhone

source: Forbes & CultofMac

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