Apple seems to be expanding the near-field communication (NFC) capabilities of its iPhones beyond mobile payments, allowing users to securely unlock doors equipped with the technology. The functionality in the iPhone lineup is very much restrictive, but it sounds like Apple wants to open up a bit, according to The Information.
The Cupertino-based company is said to also be planning to announce the new NFC functionality “next month,” suggesting it will come at WWDC as part of the iOS 12 unveiling.
The information states that Apple is planning to introduce new NFC-based features into iOS and the iPhone lineup. All in an effort to expand the iPhone’s functionality as a contactless piece of technology beyond what it’s basically used for now: Apple Pay.
It was already reported nearly four years from now that Apple has been looking to expand NFC capabilities to building security and transit ticketing, working with its campus security vendor HID Global on the technology.
The change to the near-field communication, or NFC, chip, which is expected to be announced next month, could pave the way for people to use iPhones for other security-sensitive interactions, from paying transit fares and opening car doors to verifying their identity in other ways.
Already, employees at Apple’s new campus in Cupertino, Calif., are using their iPhones to gain access to buildings and offices, suggesting that the technology has been deployed there, people familiar with the matter said.
The report today indicates that Apple wants the iPhone to be used at more contactless points, including as a means to security unlock a hotel room door, or serve as a virtual transit card. Technically speaking, some hotels have been using the iPhone as a door key, but in those cases, it’s based on Bluetooth Low Energy protocols. That isn’t as secure as an NFC contact point, so it would make sense to expand that functionality.
NFC offers a more secure method for connections and authentications, an important consideration for companies and government agencies in particular. Apple expanding NFC functionality would certainly be a boost. In terms of a transit card, Apple is reportedly working with Cubic. In Japan, Apple installed a FeliCa chip in the iPhone to support the public transit system. While in the United Kingdom, tapping your iPhone to access the Underground is already supported as well.
Apple is pretty much putting its focus on trimming back features within iOS and on refinements, stability, and performance improvements, which the company will allow us to hear about the iPhone lineup might get new NFC features, and its existence. Stay tuned on June 4 to witness the introduction of iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12, and macOS 10.14 alongside other products lineup during WWDC 2018 keynote.
[via The Information]
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