There is not too many people that realize that Apple’s form of NFC usage is restricted to Apple Pay only. The company stated putting NFC in their iPhone 6 product line, but to date, the iPhone only offers one mode of usage. The iPhone currently uses a limited portion of the card emulation mode to facilitate payments using NFC and Apple Pay for payment terminals.
There are a lot of functional rumors out there on the web about Apple’s position with NFC. Part of this is well justified and while Apple positions themselves as leading innovator, it takes several years before they implement technology in their devices.
Two Factors That Make Apple Opening NFC in September a Possibility
While, I still would not place a bet that Apple is going to open NFC to developers, there is some evidence that they might.
MacBook Getting NFC
Apple has already announced that the MacBook will have NFC in it come September of 2016. Why would their laptops need NFC? To date, most larger computer devices like laptops and tablets do not use NFC. It wouldn’t make sense to use a MacBook in a store to make a payment with NFC and if that is what they are working on, the number of people using a laptop for mobile payments would be interesting to me.
My thoughts are that Apple could be including this to function with the other modes of NFC. For example, with Peer to Peer mode, you could transfer files from your iPhone to your Apple computer. Now the iPhone would also need peer to peer functionality enabled. Apple could also be including this to allow their MacBook’s to read, write and emulate NFC tags. This would be a plus if they open their devices to NFC developers. Developers would not need an external reader/writer connected to the device and additionally, it would be interesting to see the ability to engage the iPhone simulator for X-Code with NFC. To me these possibilities seem more practical than using NFC in the laptop for mobile payments, but I could be wrong.
Pokemon Trading with NFC
Pokemon Go has stated that in September, their game will support trading of Pokemon with NFC technology. The two most popular phones with NFC are Android devices and the iPhone. Now in its present state, iPhone users cannot use NFC for Peer to Peer sharing. Pokemon Go has stated that their game will support trading on both devices and using NFC is a logical choice.
I think that Pokemon Go, with its growing user base could be a great way to expand awareness of NFC technology. With more active users than Twitter, could this game have enough of a base to put some pressure on Apple to open their NFC to developers. This is possible and likely. Apple currently receives 30% of in application purchases. These purchases are very strong in Pokemon Go and very profitable. If Apple does not open NFC, while I do not think it would be an iPhone killer, it could make some of the loyal “Pokemon Trainers” change to a device that supports NFC trading. If these users switch, Apple could lose millions or more in the fees it collects from those users in app purchases.
Who knows? I cannot estimate likelihood with Apple products anymore. The most recent “innovation” was new emojis. That is a far pace short of a typical Steve Jobs product announcement. Opening NFC would seem logical with the current state of the technology ecosystem, but sometimes logic isn’t a driving factor.
Before you call me an Apple hater, I am writing this from a MacBook Air and plan on using my iPad later today. I use some Apple products and they are great, but I want something more than emojis.