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Apple plans user-tracking NFC for iPhone 5

Apple plans user-tracking NFC for iPhone 5

The next-generation iPhone could include NFC technology to take your Mac preferences everywhere you go.

Apple is rumoured to be planning a near-field communications chip into its next model of iPhone, but it's looking beyond the basics to offer its users an interesting feature: desktop customisation.

Near-field communications technology, which allows portable devices to exchange information with receivers at extremely short range, is already in use in many areas as a method of allowing users to 'swipe' their smartphones over a payment terminal in order to have charges added to their bills for small purchases.

Although NFC capabilities for the iPhone 5 have been rumoured for quite some time, an unnamed source claims that Apple is looking to offer those that own both an iPhone 5 and a Mac OS X-equipped laptop or desktop an interesting customisation feature.

Speaking to Cult of Mac, the unnamed source claimed that future iPhones will be designed in a method that means 'the Mac authenticates with the iPhone, which contains a lot of the information the computer needs, such as bookmarks, passwords and other data. The system would essentially turn any Apple computer into your own - like you’re actually working on your own computer.'

If true, the feature would be a major selling point for getting Mac-based systems into public places such as libraries and airport lounges: simply dump your iPhone next to the public terminal and get immediate access to all your personal documents, settings, bookmarks, and sundry preferences that make your computer yours.

So far, Apple hasn't confirmed nor denied the rumour, and there's no getting away from the fact that it has been putting a lot of investment into NFC technologies, up to and including the hiring of industry expert Benjamin Vigier back in August. If it is planning to implement the preference-tracking technology, however, it will have a number of barriers to overcome.

Chief amongst these is security: the idea that your preferences, bookmarks, and passwords can be read without ever having to take your iPhone out of your pocket is one that is sure to spook many, so the company will have to ensure that it has a robust system in place to prevent 'drive-by' theft of personal details.

With the next iPhone not expected to hit the market for at least another year, it looks like Apple will have a while to figure the details of the technology out prior to launch.

Do you think that Apple's latest wheeze sounds like something that could tempt you to the Mac side of life, or does it just sound like a privacy disaster waiting to happen? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

22 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
okenobi 3rd November 2010, 16:06 Quote
Minority Report with phones. Lush.

Would make a great Orange commercial at the cinema, about not letting your phone ruin the movie.
SaNdCrAwLeR 3rd November 2010, 16:14 Quote
milk the cow...
wuyanxu 3rd November 2010, 16:24 Quote
so, loose your phone and your data becomes public information?

great idea in theory. but with Apple's track record of security bugs, especially on iphone, this probably will end badly
Baggpuss 3rd November 2010, 16:29 Quote
Another year? I would have thought version 5 would be released June/July to fit it with when all the others were released?
Stotherd-001 3rd November 2010, 16:30 Quote
Googles approach with the chrome browser Sync makes more sense. Don't even need your phone for that. Hopefully they implement something similar into android and Chrome OS.
greigaitken 3rd November 2010, 18:37 Quote
would have been really useful a few years ago, but we're not too far away from netbook performance in the phone itself. plus if you gonna use this feature regularly - why not just buy lil netbook for £300 instead of a new iphone.
leveller 3rd November 2010, 18:50 Quote
This sounds great. Ever since getting the phone I've wanted it to automatically update bookmarks and everything else by itself.
Nexxo 3rd November 2010, 20:19 Quote
It's the next logical step in portable computing. Of course for people who worry about losing the phone there could be an unlock code. Like, say, on the lock screen. Hey, come to think of it...
SteveU 3rd November 2010, 20:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggpuss
Another year? I would have thought version 5 would be released June/July to fit it with when all the others were released?

I believe it's only going to be a revision next year a-la 3GS. The white iPhone 4 isn't due out until April 2011 now and the yanks are talking about re-releasing the iPhone 4 with CDMA tech so I think it'll be more like the iPhone 4S than an iPhone 5 next year.
Bluephoenix 3rd November 2010, 22:08 Quote
and the iPhone evolves into an even bigger ticking timebomb to an information chernobyl

tbh I'm starting to think that modern society really needs an information chernobyl of sorts, it would stop many from being quite so trusting of technology that they accept without giving thought to the potential consequences.
chrisb2e9 3rd November 2010, 23:36 Quote
Quote:
libraries
not off my tax dollars...
Baggpuss 4th November 2010, 00:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveU
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggpuss
Another year? I would have thought version 5 would be released June/July to fit it with when all the others were released?

I believe it's only going to be a revision next year a-la 3GS. The white iPhone 4 isn't due out until April 2011 now and the yanks are talking about re-releasing the iPhone 4 with CDMA tech so I think it'll be more like the iPhone 4S than an iPhone 5 next year.

Thats just annoying, as the 4 wasn't even a particularly big step up from the 3Gs. If you dont video call or mind the resolution then theres really no point in the 4 if you have the 3Gs. Oh well will have to wait and see i guess.
Cthippo 4th November 2010, 02:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisb2e9
not off my tax dollars...

Opposed to free access to information? :|
Snips 4th November 2010, 07:41 Quote
WOW, any other gimmicks iPhone can come up with in response to the positive reviewed Windows Phone 7?
sandys 4th November 2010, 08:35 Quote
Its where the market is going, Nokia announced that all their smartphones would have NFC in 2011, plenty of other handset manufacturers are doing it too, they've have to keep up with the trends.
Blademrk 4th November 2010, 10:17 Quote
I'd be happier if apple could get the simple thing's working first, like the ios4's alarm clock function.

Since the clock's went back on the weekend, the alarm goes off an hour later than it should (could have been awkward if it was the only alarm I used).
okenobi 4th November 2010, 11:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Opposed to free access to information? :|

I think he's probably referring to the cost of kitting out every public space with Macs.

This a privacy disaster waiting to happen. But Joe Schmo will lap it up, as always. Just look at the number of idiots constantly giving away their locations already.
CharlO 4th November 2010, 14:00 Quote
Battery life, we are letting you go, you knew Big Brother sells better than you.
Xir 4th November 2010, 15:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blademrk
I'd be happier if apple could get the simple thing's working first, like the ios4's alarm clock function.
Or an antenna that, well...works:D
Andy Mc 4th November 2010, 18:25 Quote
If this tech is used, considering how popular the iPhone is it will be a prime target for hackers to crack the authentication used. Imagine how easy it would then be for hackers to go to a crowded public place, such as a tube station, and skim the data off these things?

Nice idea but apple better ensure it's bloody secure first.
leveller 4th November 2010, 18:28 Quote
I don't think Apple will have considered any of these fears. Maybe you guys should let them know!!
warejon9 5th November 2010, 13:06 Quote
Considering how easily iPhone's and mac's are hacked, sounds like a great idea!
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