iPhone 5 To Feature NFC Chip, Mobile Wallet

A recently filed patent by Apple Inc. points the way towards the inclusion of an NFC (Near Field Communications) chip in the next iPhone model, known in the popular tech press as the iPhone 5. (Although, if Apple follows the precedent it set with the new iPad, model numbers may be going out the windows for Cupertino’s flagship device.)

According to a report in the International Business Times, Apple’s next iPhone will feature the same NFC technology that Google is using to power its Google Wallet payment app featured on the Galaxy Nexus. With an NFC chip on board, a cellular phone can be used to pay wirelessly for products at merchants in a secure manner. As the radio range of the chip’s used for NFC is extremely short ranged, they are thought to be very secure.

However, not only will iPhone 5 users be able to make purchases with their new phones, IBTimes reported, but they will also be able to engage in what Apple has termed “Gifting,” a method for securely transferring digital files between users.

As any of you who remember buying music on physical media such as CDs, cassettes or even vinyl can attest, reselling digital music legally in pretty much a giant hassle. While any tech savvy teen probably knows how to break the Digital Rights Management (DRM) protecting the music you buy digitally, doing so is not an option for either the tech newby or for those of us who prefer to stay within the law.

As IBTimes noted: “often times, transferring a copyright-protected file from one device to another can result in the file being unplayable or totally inaccessible.”

Now, Apple’s “Gifting” will allow iPhone 5 users to transfer files bought from iTunes via NFC, simultaneously erasing the file from your devices, while placing it in the new owner’s iTunes account for use on his iOS gadgets.

Apple’s gift-giving solution also allows for media to be sent and received to two remote iDevices with a simple e-mail. The sender would buy the gift over iTunes, and the receipient would receive an e-mail with a corresponding gift certificate that can be downloaded to any of their devies. The patent allows for multiple gifts to be sent in a single transaction, as well as certain customization options for the gifts — including voice greetings and custom gift images, likely to conceal the gift’s identity before the receipient opens it.

NFC will go well with another of Apple’s recent patents: the iWallet, which Patently Apple describes as something akin to Google Wallet and which will usher in a future in which “credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account.”