Apple's next-gen iPhone rumored with RFID-enabled 'remote computing'

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The addition of a near-field communication chip to Apple's next-generation iPhone would add not only "e-wallet" transactions, but also the ability to securely turn a nearby Mac into your own computer, complete with custom settings and personal passwords, according to a new rumor.



Citing an anonymous source, Cult of Mac reported Monday that Apple is working on near-field communication technology for both its smartphone and future Macs. The functionality is rumored to appear in Apple's next iPhone, expected to launch in June 2011.



The source said an iPhone with near-field communications like an RFID chip could be used within proximity of a Mac, allowing users to load applications, settings and data on the Mac from the phone. When the iPhone is taken away from the proximity of the computer, the data would disappear with it.



"The Mac authenticates with the iPhone, which contains a lot of the information the computer needs, such as bookmarks, passwords and other data," the source reportedly said. "The system would essentially turn any Apple computer into your own -- like you're actually working on your own computer. Same settings, look, bookmarks, preferences. It would all be invisible. Your iPhone would be all you needed to unlock your Mac."



The information contained on the phone would reportedly include contacts, desktop picture, mouse and keyboard settings, website passwords, and even software licenses. Taking the iPhone away from the proximity of the computer would then restore the Mac to its original state.



The source indicated that Apple is interested in making it easy for users to carry all of their information with them, but that task has become difficult as file sizes and the amount of data continues to grow. They said it's possible that Apple could store larger files in the cloud, while the basics like passwords and documents would be contained on the phone.



Last week, a report alleged that Apple is developing a new open SIM for its next-generation iPhone, which would allow one handset to work with multiple carriers. It was also speculated that the technology from a partnership with Gemalto could also enable contactless transactions through an integrated RFID chip.



Rumors of an RFID-enabled iPhone have existed for some time, though the product has not yet come to be. However, Apple has filed patents related to near-field communications, including an application in July that described a system allowing users to rely on NFC functionality in the iPhone to research products and quickly find helpful information, such as an instruction manual.



Apple has also hired experts on near-field communications, and was even rumored to be testing iPhone models with RFID chips as recently as August.



Cult of Mac's source indicated that Apple has been working on RFID-equipped products and its "remote computing" technology for some time, but cautioned that it may never become a part of the company's products. But the adoption of near-field communications could be a superior alternative to other short-range wireless technologies, like Bluetooth, because of a simpler and faster secure authentication system.



Cult of Mac's recent track record has not been tremendously accurate, as the site incorrectly reported last month that the new MacBook Air would have user-upgradeable RAM, processor speeds up to 2.4GHz, and a battery life of between 8 and 10 hours. The site did corroborate AppleInsider's own, accurate report that the new MacBook Air would come in two screen sizes: 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    Hmm... not sure I like the idea my computer could be unlocked if someone got ahold of my iPhone. That is, if I had a new computer and an iPhone.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    This is seriously cool stuff, but implementation and assurance of security are key factors that will have to be answered first.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    interesting



    does this mean the iphone 5 killer app will be both a wallet and a cash register?
  • Reply 4 of 41
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Cool. The addition of the technology that many insisted would be mandatory for the iPhone to succeed in Japan! Now Apple can take over Japan! Er, wait...



    Personally I think this is way overdue - it would be great functionality to have. Hopefully, if true, this means Apple is also working on ways to sync or coordinate among multiple Macs you might own even without an iOS device. Multiple computer, multiple user households are not uncommon now.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    They are really going to have to nail this in order for people to trust it.
  • Reply 6 of 41
    I don't get it. You can already do this kind of thing with mobileme. Just enable mobileme to work with guest accounts in OS X.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    ahmlcoahmlco Posts: 432member
    I understand using RFID and NFC for things like digital wallets and credit cards, but why would Apple not also enable this over Bluetoth or WiFi?



    Then any existing iPhone, iPad, or Touch could act as your "Home" folder on nearly any current Mac. Just pair them up like you currently do with Apple TVs and Apple Remote apps. Or simply allow encrypted WiFi connections to a password-protected "folder" on an iOS device.



    As far as I can see, NFC hardware brings nothing to this particular party.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    yes, please.
  • Reply 9 of 41
    As long as there is a way to turn it off, I'm good.
  • Reply 10 of 41
    This sounds like total BS...the next Ford Echo is going to be a hover car too
  • Reply 11 of 41
    ...before I trust my wallet to them.
  • Reply 12 of 41
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    You won't need to download your data to that public Mac in a coffee shop. That would be an unbelievably stupid thing to do. It would be Microsoft-stupid.



    A better concept would be to transparently initiate an Apple Remote Desktop session with Apple's servers. This means that all your data would need to be stored in Apple's "cloud," of course. But it obviates copying most or all of your data to the random Mac you happen to be near.



    Macs wouldn't necessarily need multi-terabyte hard drives. Just a few hundred gigs of flash for mass storage of frequently-accessed files would be enough. If your network connection is fast and if it's reliable. Those are two big "if"s.



    Apple likes to gradually evolve technologies quietly, in public, before rolling them into major upgrades. For example, the original click-wheel iPod games were released in September '06, months before the iPhone was first released, and nearly two years before iTunes got the App Store for iPhone. So I would expect the first use of the NC server farm to be something simple, safe, and sane. Probably just streaming music and video. Apple can work on reliability, performance, and scalability while planning for its transition to "cloud" computing.



    If iPhone 5 does get the "e-wallet" NFC technology, it will of course be used for point-of-sale purchases. And it could also identify a user and give random Macs access to the music and videos stored in the "cloud." And not too much more. Best to start small and scale things up later.



    From what we've seen of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion," Apple probably won't shift Mac OS heavily into the "cloud" until after the Lion series has run its course in 2011-2012. So by 2013 or so, Apple could roll out Mac OS 11 "Cumulus" with optional cloud integration. (OS 11 could have cloud codenames, starting from the lowest-altitude clouds and moving up.) That gives Apple plenty of time to battle-harden its server farm and prepare to scale it up. And most importantly, it gives Apple time to perfect its Mac OS cloud technology.
  • Reply 13 of 41
    steve-jsteve-j Posts: 320member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post


    This sounds like total BS...the next Ford Echo is going to be a hover car too



    We heard the same rumor WRT the iP4. Twas ever thus.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    nli10nli10 Posts: 32member
    One of the originally cited features of the Nintendo Wii was that it knew whose controller (within the family) turned it on and set it up accordingly with the right Miis, games on the etc - it's one of the reasons the controller has flash memory in it.



    Never happened though.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Hmm... not sure I like the idea my computer could be unlocked if someone got ahold of my iPhone. That is, if I had a new computer and an iPhone.



    The way I understood it, the person with the iPhone wouldn't have access to the data on the computer, they would be using the computer as if their iPhone was the hard drive for that computer. Say you're in a public place with computers, like an airport or a library. The computer has OSX and maybe iWork on it, but no other files. You get a code from your phone that you type into a startup screen on the computer. The computer recognizes your phone as the hard drive, and then you can use all the documents and files on your phone, but on a true desktop. So if you loaded your phone with the most important files from your home desktop or laptop, you could then travel and work on them anywhere.



    I'm guessing on the passcode-to-log-in part, of course, but I don't see how else to prevent the computer from frying itself if there are two or more people around with iPhones/iPods. Thoughts?
  • Reply 16 of 41
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    The real use of NFC is wallet technology. is that a risk if the iPhone is stolen, yes it is. However people have that problem with credit cards - basically the NFC will work but will also require ide from the shop keeeper ( except for small purposes like the Oyster card in London's tube which is tellerless, of course).



    With stolen iPhones Apple needs to open up the Mobile ME disable at a distance to everyone with a mac.com or me. com id.



    Could be brilliant, certainly the killer app.
  • Reply 17 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post


    From what we've seen of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion," Apple probably won't shift Mac OS heavily into the "cloud" until after the Lion series has run its course in 2011-2012. So by 2013 or so, Apple could roll out Mac OS 11 "Cumulus" with optional cloud integration. (OS 11 could have cloud codenames, starting from the lowest-altitude clouds and moving up.) That gives Apple plenty of time to battle-harden its server farm and prepare to scale it up. And most importantly, it gives Apple time to perfect its Mac OS cloud technology.



    I don't agree that the idea as stated is "Microsoft stupid" and I don't entirely agree with the transition to cloud computing (need connections so fast they don't exist, data storage in the millions of terabytes, and don't forget the amount of things people store keeps growing). But I do think your idea for naming of OSX 11 is very creative, especially if it does have a (small) cloud component.
  • Reply 18 of 41
    rolandgrolandg Posts: 632member
    Sounds a lot like the "home on iPod" feature that quickly show up but was as quickly canned.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RolandG View Post


    Sounds a lot like the "home on iPod" feature that quickly show up but was as quickly canned.



    nothing is ever really abandoned.



    Anyway that is not the real reason for the NFC, its about the wallet.
  • Reply 20 of 41
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post


    The way I understood it, the person with the iPhone wouldn't have access to the data on the computer, they would be using the computer as if their iPhone was the hard drive for that computer. Say you're in a public place with computers, like an airport or a library. The computer has OSX and maybe iWork on it, but no other files. You get a code from your phone that you type into a startup screen on the computer. The computer recognizes your phone as the hard drive, and then you can use all the documents and files on your phone, but on a true desktop. So if you loaded your phone with the most important files from your home desktop or laptop, you could then travel and work on them anywhere.



    I'm guessing on the passcode-to-log-in part, of course, but I don't see how else to prevent the computer from frying itself if there are two or more people around with iPhones/iPods. Thoughts?



    I'm thinking more like your files in in Apple's giant new server facility and the only thing on your iPhone are the keys. Something like Apple's current Keychain (which can sync between devices via MobleMe). So you log into the Mac has a guest, then it detects and pairs with your iPhone and gets the keys to access all your files, settings, and apps in the cloud.
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