Apple plans user-tracking NFC for iPhone 5

November 3, 2010 // 3:58 p.m.

Tags: #apple #apple-mac #ios #iphone #iphone-5 #mac #mac-os-x #near-field-communications #nfc

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.

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