Next-Generation iPhone Prototypes Reportedly Support NFC for Mobile Payments
9to5Mac reports that it has reanalyzed the previously-obtained hardware code dump for Apple's next-generation iPhone prototypes and discovered that the code makes reference to hardware components supporting near field communication (NFC) capabilities.
We’ve previously been able to pull data from PreEVT iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2 prototypes codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2), which leads us to believe that the new iPhone will have a bigger 1136×640 display. We also detailed a lot of the hardware here but forgot one very important little bit. Further investigation into this hardware code dump leads us to believe that these iPhones also have Near Field Communication (NFC) controllers directly connected to the power management unit (PMU).
NFC enables short-range wireless communication between devices and chip readers, with the most high-profile deployment of the technology being for contact-less payment systems.
Rumors of NFC support for the iPhone have been circulating for some time, with The New York Times giving a substantial boost to the discussion back in March 2011 with its claims that the technology would be available in a "coming iteration of the Apple iPhone - although not necessarily the next one". NFC did not arrive in the iPhone 4S released last October, and thus expectations for the 2012 iPhone and NFC have been heightened.
Apple did not directly address the topic of NFC in iOS 6 at its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, but the company did announce a new Passbook digital wallet app which strongly suggests that company is moving toward offering NFC services. As announced, Passbook serves as a time- and location-aware app for storing digital tickets, coupons, loyalty cards, and more.
Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place — like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon. And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal.
Adding an NFC component to Passbook would be a natural step to eliminate the need to physically scan barcodes on the iPhone's screen, allowing users to simply wave their devices near readers to activate Passbook items.