iPhone 6 will make you fork over with Apple Pay if you want to BONK
No NFC access for third-party developers, apps
NFC has struggled to get off the ground as a major smartphone feature. And despite Apple finally deciding to include it in the upcoming Apple Watch and iPhone 6, it doesn't sound like Cupertino will be doing the tech any real favor – because third-party app developers won't be able to access it.
Citing an Apple spokesperson, Cult of Mac reports that when the iPhone 6 ships, its NFC chip will only be usable with Apple Pay, the company's new payment system. No public API will be available for developers to use the tech for their own apps.
Don't expect to see any marketing materials touting NFC as a major feature of Apple's latest gizmo, either. Apple Pay is the feature; Near Field Communication (NFC) is mentioned almost as an afterthought.
By comparison, although NFC is hardly a major selling point for Android devices, it can be used for all sorts of applications, from waking up the phone, to enabling easy data sharing, to pairing with peripherals like speakers and cameras, to ticketing for public transit.
Crucially, NFC chips in Android phones can also be used with a variety of competing payment systems, such as Google Wallet, Mastercard Contactless, and Softcard (née ISIS). Not so on iOS, where Apple will be the sole payment processor.
This lockdown is typical of new iPhone features, however, and there's reason to believe that Apple may eventually loosen its restrictions.
For example, when Touch ID debuted with the iPhone 5s, developers were similarly shut out at first. But Apple did eventually announce a public API giving devs access to the touch sensor, albeit not until almost a year later.
What's more, during the Apple Watch launch event, the company demoed using the device to unlock a hotel door using an app from Starwood Hotels, which suggests select partners may already be getting early access to the NFC chip – although Starwood has experimented with Bluetooth for its door app, too.
Allowing iOS developers to come up with clever applications for NFC could be a prudent move for Apple, since mobile payments have yet to catch on with consumers. It's easy to see why not; bonking a device isn't much more convenient than swiping a card, and with smartphone theft on the rise, waving your $300 mobe around is hardly "safer" than carrying cash.
Still, hope springs eternal, and the payments industry remains optimistic that Apple's adoption of NFC could give mobile payments the boost they need – even if Apple Pay is all it's good for. ®