While some rumours about the iPhone 6 can be dismissed as implausible at first glance, there’s one pleasant surprise among the pile of reports and grainy images that would make sense for Apple and give a boost to Android as well: NFC.
Based on a leaked schematic from a hardware source, Wired said that ‘Signs Point To Yes’ that this feature was likely to be included in the new iPhone.
Starting with the iPhone 4S, announced in Fal 2011, Apple instead supported Bluetooth 4.0 (low energy) beacons that it named iBeacons. iBeacons have been adopted by several companies including Hudson’s Bay in Toronto as a means of personalizing service for nearby customers phones.
Contactless payments and mobile payment apps would suddenly be the new, cool standard.
Bluetooth iBeacons still going strong
As seen at Dx3 2014 in the Mobile Innovation Store, the LXR & Co. app and in-store fixtures uses Bluetooth to sense nearby customers and deliver personalized offers.
This week, Estimote announced their next generation of Bluetooth beacons that are smaller and easier to conceal when attached to fixtures (or walls or dogs or people).
So iBeacons are picking up adopters at a steady pace. What changed to cause Apple to re-consider?
Apple’s desire to penetrate the Chinese market could be the deciding factor. According to 9to5mac.com, point-of-sale payment terminal manufacturer China UnionPay is working with Apple to create a payment system that would work with iPhone and UnionPay’s terminals.
Making use of credit card accounts
With 800 million credit card-linked iTunes accounts ready for transaction, it makes a lot of sense for Apple to bring that ability to their phones.
This opens many doors for an iOS-based loyalty program like Passbook (or another app) to flourish.
For both consumers and competing mobile operating systems like Android, Apple’s adding NFC would be a boon. Contactless payments and mobile payment apps would suddenly be the new, cool standard.
Flagship Android phones have included NFC as far back as 2010, but in Canada, adoption for mobile payments has been slow as phone carriers, banks and credit card companies to develop agreements and apps for only a portion of smart phone users at a time.
Adding iPhones users to the group of potential users would boost the impetus for the companies behind NFC transactions to finally create an integrated and universal system for smart phone users.
It should be noted that iPhone users are generally younger and have higher income than Android users. That should make the NFC technology all the more attractive for developers and businesses once the iPhone user group comes into play.
When the rumoured iPhone 6 is released in the fall (also a rumour), let’s hope the NFC rumour is more than just wishful thinking.