You know, I’d like to say I’m not the type to say “I was right” but I think I may be. And in this case, I’ve got to say it.
The big news for iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 was the inclusion of NFC. Sure, there was also the thing about the bigger screen, but I don’t think in this day and age, that’s anything to brag about. That’s just to be expected, and frankly, I’m surprised it took Apple so long to do it. However, the inclusion of NFC is something that is a bit surprising. Not because it is new tech, it isn’t. And it’s far from being “the new thing” in cell phones, it’s been around for years. And of course, Apple was last to the table to bring a helping of NFC. So what was the surprise?
As we’ve pointed out before, Apple doesn’t like to use standardized technology. No USB cables for charging, if you want to stream something from your phone to your television, you need to buy Apple TV. If you want to buy music or a movie, you need to use iTunes. You see, Apple doesn’t play well with others (unless those others have paid Apple for licensing of course) and there is a very good reason for this. Apple holds tight the gate to their closed garden for a very specific reason. That reason is income. This is a business plan based solely on the dollars they can make. No mistake about it, this is not about innovation, not about their technology being better, it is simply about the fact that if they use proprietary cables, connections, music stores, etc., they can charge for it.
And NFC is standardized tech. All the phone makers use it. You can jump on Amazon and buy NFC smart tags. There are accessories such as Blue Tooth speakers which will pair with your phone through NFC. And of course, payment terminals at so many retailers. All using NFC. All using standard tech.
Apple has ignored NFC for some time now. Almost seems as if they have purposely ignored it. I had so many arguments with so many Apple users saying NFC was a fad and they’d never use it. Those same users were so excited in the last few months at the prospect of getting NFC. Apple created iBeacon, which those users would tell me did the same thing as NFC. It doesn’t. And it tracks you, which NFC doesn’t.
When we heard iPhone was getting NFC, and after the initial shock wore off, and after I thought it through for a bit, I realized that there was no way Apple would allow NFC to function as we are used to NFC functioning. We use NFC for so many things. I personally use it nearly everyday between my two phones. I have a Z10, and a Q5. Somehow, the Q5 which was supposed to be my spare phone, for testing and playing around, has become my primary phone now. I guess I’m just a physical keyboard type of guy. That’s the phone I always reach for. And yet, the screen size just doesn’t do it for me. So daily, I’ll be surfing the web, or get sent a video, or any number of things, that I’ll want to see on the bigger screen. It’s so much easier to send via NFC then to e-mail to myself. I also have all my media on my Z10, and yet my Q5 is what is typically paired to the Blue Tooth in my car, so when I want a song on my Q, I simply NFC it from my Z. And therein lies the problem.
How could Apple allow this? If you could easily transfer files between devices, how could Apple make money off of it? They can’t. And it got me to thinking about another standard tech that Apple has included. Blue Tooth. Again, we can easily transfer files among our devices using Blue Tooth. But you can’t on an iPhone. On an iPhone, Blue Tooth is used for audio. If you have an iPhone, and a Windows computer, you can’t just send files back and forth between them. It was one of the things that bugged me so much about my iPods. If you go in to a store that has a photo kiosk, you will watch Android users, BlackBerry users, pre-paid feature phone users, approach the kiosk, and Blue Tooth their photos to the kiosk for printing. Not iPhone users. iPhones don’t work that way. You need to download an app from iTunes for that retailer, which will send your photos to them VIA E-MAIL.
And I made a guess. I guessed that NFC would be crippled on iOS, just as they have crippled Blue Tooth. Did I mention I was right?
It’s now been confirmed that the NFC chip in the iPhone 6 has been restricted to ApplePay only. Yes, you read that right. So many users, excited to finally have NFC on their iPhones, won’t be able to use it for anything except ApplePay. No transferring files. No tapping with your neighbor to transfer your contact info. No tapping to your non-iOS tablet to share a webpage you’re looking at. None of those conveniences that all of us on other platforms have been enjoying all along. No, it will only allow you to pay for things. If you get ApplePay, and if you’re at a retailer that accepts it.
Under normal circumstances, if a product has NFC enabled, then it can be used for all sorts of things, such as pairing with other devices like speakers and NFC tags for quick launching applications etc. But, with the iPhone 6, Apple has restricted the NFC chip to operate only with ApplePay, their new contactless payment system.
Apple users are hopeful though. They seem to think that because the Apple Watch will also sport NFC, that for some reason Apple will open it up. And here’s my prediction: Those users are wrong. I predict that the watch will have some sort of NFC compatibility with the iPhone, and as we saw in their announcement, ApplePay. And I don’t think we shall see anything else, unless of course Apple can make money off of it. Perhaps Apple will produce a Beats BlueTooth speaker that will use NFC to pair with an iPhone. Perhaps Apple will ‘innovate’ and ‘invent’ NFC tags that will only work with iPhones, and will be the only NFC tags iPhone can read? But Apple users better prepare themselves. Just because Apple has finally decided to include standard tech on their devices, a few years too late, don’t expect to get standard use out if.