Apple plans to unlock more NFC abilities for four generations of iPhone
Back in 2014, Apple released the iPhone 6. It was the first iPhone the company had released that included an NFC (near-field communication) chip, and although the technology is pretty versatile for iPhones it has just one purpose: Apple Pay. But that could all be about to change if a report in The Information is to be believed.
According to “a person familiar with the matter”, four generations of iPhone are about to receive an upgrade which will make the technology a whole lot more useful. If the report turns out to be accurate, iPhones will have the ability to unlock supported doors, hotel rooms and cars.
The company has shown early signs of giving developers access to the NFC chip. With the release of iOS 11, Apple introduced something called CoreNFC – a framework which allows for the scanning of RFID tags. That’s pretty basic functionality, but it does at least prove that Apple sees more potential in the chip than just Apple Pay.
The unlocking of doors – be they automotive or hotel based – seems like a sensible approach. Apple already trusts the iPhone for security on its new Cupertino campus, where employees unlock doors with their iPhones, so expanding the functionality out into the real world feels like a no-brainer. If the option to use the NFC chip is properly opened up to third parties, it doesn’t need to end with doors: we could theoretically see the iPhone adopted as a surrogate travel card around the world.
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Android devices with NFC chips can mostly already do this of course, but worldwide adoption of technology which takes advantage is pretty limited – in part because nearly 20% of smartphone owners choose an iPhone. If Apple does open up its NFC chips to developers, not only will it be closing the gap between iOS and Android – it’ll hopefully kick-start an enthusiasm for NFC authentication around the world.
Hopefully, we’ll see more at the upcoming WWDC event, which begins on 4 June.