Is NFC Coming to the Apple iPad?

Apple-iPad-NFC-rfid-blogAccording to Apple Insider, the US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent that refers to NFC technology. Although the patent isn’t specifically related to an existing product, it could mean that we’re going to see NFC capabilities in a forthcoming iPad or iPad mini.

In iOS 7, Apple is still relying on other syncing methods, such as Wi-Fi. It will expand the capabilities of AirDrop to the iPhone and iPad, so files can be transferred wirelessly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth without the need to email them to another user. And at the iOS 7 keynote last month, Craig Federighi made a scathing reference to NFC, saying AirDrop does away with the need to ‘bump phones’.

Perhaps Apple has had second thoughts. AirDrop is very handy (and it also exists on OS X, which is doubly useful), but it’s an Apple-only transfer method, and users could potentially use NFC to get their device to ‘talk’ to other manufacturers’ devices. More tellingly, NFC could also help Apple to roll out new payment services, where a phone exchanges data with a payment terminal in a store.

You can read the Apple patent document now. It shows some intriguing mockups that describe how NFC would work on an iOS tablet or phone.