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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 30

John Cox | Sept. 3, 2014
The iOSphere became still more convinced that mobile payments via iPhone are just days away with the expected Sept. 9 unveiling of iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 will have an NFC chip for mobile payments

If this sounds familiar, it is. It's a recurring theme for over a year. The newest assertions come from a post at Wired, where Christina Bonnington writes that "our sources say" Apple will introduce on the iPhone 6 mobile payments that use a built-in NFC chip.

Bonnington says that "Apple has remained curiously silent on the mobile payments front. Well not anymore." Perhaps it's only curious if you consider something like Google Wallet to be a resounding success.

Jason Del Rey, Re/, presenting the totality of his explanation - based on "sources familiar with the talks" between Apple and American Express - on how Apple's mobile payments will work on the iPhone 6: You use your phone.

The iPhone 6 will introduce Apple's mobile payments platform and the anonymous sources claim it will be a hallmark feature of the new phone. "We're told the solution will involve NFC," she says.

Larger-sized iPhones would let Apple more easily incorporate the NFC chip and its substantial antenna. Bonnington, and other writers, have pointed to several Apple patent applications or awards over the past few years that deal with NFC. But there's little information in public that suggests Apple is ready to make a major investment in NFC, especially when its Bluetooth 4.0-based iBeacon specification would provide an alternate, and in some ways, superior network connection.

Bonnington does reference iBeacon, but as with most of the "reports" about an Apple mobile payments system it is only the most general outline. "The company has made a huge push to get its Bluetooth LE-transmitting iBeacons into retailers across the country," she says. "And because Apple did not spend a great deal of time expounding on iBeacons at WWDC this year, it's possible they could be a greater focus at Apple's September media event — as a part of its mobile payment solution."

In other words, because Apple didn't say anything about this technology, we know it must be important.

To The Rollup, NFC as Apple's payments infrastructure still seems like a longshot. But one possibility is for Apple instead to use NFC mainly as a sensor and device interface. Several photos have recently surfaced online purporting to show a NFC chip from NXP Semiconductor, based in The Netherlands. Some bloggers, assuming the photos to be legitimate have assumed the chip is for mobile payments.

But NXP just announced a new passive NFC package that combines a contactless NFC interface with a contact I2C interface and onboard non-volatile memory. The idea is to let mobile devices interact with a range of devices and sensors, including via the "embedded microcontroller of any electronic device." NCP has a YouTube video that shows one application, using a smartphone to control a washing machine.


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