iPhone 5 may implement NFC technology for eWallets and electronic passports

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion brings iOS, iPad innovations back to the Mac

CultofMac has received a tip from an anonymous source that claims Apple might be getting ready to go all in on near-field communication (NFC), with next June's iPhone 5 potentially leading the way:

“The Mac authenticates with the iPhone, which contains a lot of the information the computer needs, such as bookmarks, passwords and other data,” said our source, who asked to remain anonymous. “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....Address book would show their contacts, and the user would have full access to their information in the same manner they would if they were working from home. This same behavior extends to even showing the same desktop picture, mouse and keyboard settings, and would eventually extend to software licenses and passwords for websites such as Facebook....When a person walks away with their iPhone and away from the communication link with the Mac, the original settings of the Mac would be restored. All communications and storage of passwords stays on the user’s iPhone, leaving nothing stored on the computer....This functionality is extended to access a user’s home folder, which will be stored and accessed either through storage on MobileMe or by using the Back to My Mac feature to connect to the user’s home folder.”

The source also states that this technology has been toyed with by Apple for quite a while and it may never see the light of day. They also note that transfer speeds are not that great, and may depend on wifi or bluetooth after the initial handshake with the device.

NFC technology has been picking up speed in Asia but has yet to really see the light of day in the US. Lenovo offers this option in a few of their ThinkPads but NFC has yet to gain a foothold. If Apple adopts it, that may change.

NFC basically allows users to utilize their device as an electronic passport. Your iPhone would store your personal settings, bookmarks, keychain passwords, and desktop settings. When you're in range of an NFC compatible Mac or other device, it could essentially turn that Mac into your desktop. Similar to remote desktop. The difference is that you don't have to initiate a login or store local data. If you walk out of range of the Mac or NFC compatible device, your information would no longer be accessible. The device would simply go back to its previous state and no traces of your information would be stores locally on the Mac or device.

Is this a feature you guys think would be useful to you?

[via CultofMac]

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

iPhone 5 may implement NFC technology for eWallets and electronic passports


sounds nice and all but how often are you really going to be using someone else's computer to make this all worth it?

What happens when you walk into an Apple store???
I like the ideas though and the potential to use our iPhones as a wallet.

Wow, a gee wiz feature that most will never use. Way to go! How much you want to bet nothing is done with notifications, widgets or other areas of the UI that the iphone is way behind in. Maybe it will all be encased in a beautifully designed enclosure that is either RF hostil, overly fragile or just plain non functional. But hey, its a new iphone and the i-lemmings will buy it in droves.

This explains the potential massive size of Apple's North Carolina server farm. Mac OS 11, or whatever it's called ("Cumulus"?) could optionally allow you to store all you data on Apple's servers.
You walk into a coffee shop, log in with your iPhone's NFC ID, and that public Mac initiates an Apple Remote Desktop session with a server. BOOM. There's all your stuff. And when you walk away, BOOM. You're logged out and there's no trace of any of your data on the random Mac.
This would also eliminate the need for multi-terabyte drives in Macs that support this feature. Exactly the kind of thing that Apple appears to be headed toward: simpler, more iDevice-like Macs. Of course, there will always be a need for "Pro" Macs with legacy x86 apps grinding out terabytes of data. But it's clear from LaunchPad, full-screen app switching, and auto-save that consumer Macs of the future will have vastly better iOS-like ease-of-use.

Probably the coolest idea I have heard of from Apple. If they could pull this off I would put serious consideration into buying an iPad.

To me this sounds a lot like google stealing all your information. I would NEVER trust this at all. Cuz guaranteed that computer is storing stuff.

I see a massive security hole causing much drama in the future with this. Now if this doesn't happen then I like this idea...

Yes there are security risks, but this has been implemented in other countries and has worked well. There are always risks and steps needed to mitigate those risks. If you know what they are and take reasonable precautions and check your activity periodically, those risks are greatly reduced.
Would be nice to swipe my phone at the grocery store or at the movie theater... Or hell, at the BMW dealership, haha.

I agree with Chris. I would NEVER use this feature, as the security risk is too great! The host computer will absolutely store that information retrieved from the mobile device. It was said before and I'll say it again. Everything you do on a computer leaves a digital footprint!

This would be really nice for use in school... I tend to do all my heavy printing in the library in between classes.. So just having it easier to log in, find the powerpoints on my desktop, and print, would be worth buying a new MacBook. This isn't gonna be around for another 2-3 years I bet, so by then, it'll be time for a refresh

This may catch on, but the potential for sensitive information being stolen will have to be addressed. Look at what has happened on a simple problem with iTune accounts being hacked, and apple referrs you back to your bank. I know we do online banking and online buy, and sell, but you really have to be watchful of your account. It will take many safeguards in place, and it will be accepted. The test will be what apple does if there is a breach in their security.

Yeah, this is so dangerous. That's why it's not taking off in Japan at all. That's why almost all convenience stores, trains, busses, fast food restaurants in Japan don't have NFC readers. That's why vending machines don't use the technology either.
After you have your tinfoill hat firmly in place, might as well cut up your credit cards. Companies NEVER record that information.
In all seriousness, I'd say this was my biggest disappointment with the iPhone 4. If NFC is not in the iPhone 5, Apple might as well stop making phones and licensing iOS.

This is the most informative blog on ice vending that I have ever come across I will definately like to read even more on this subject and I would suggest my friends to bookmark it.

No real suprise here, the question is not whether apple will have it but whether retail outlets will accept it, and shell out the capital expenditures for the hardware

Maybe the coffee club is already organised by the staff. Could be nothing to do with their employers. I've worked in many offices with coffee clubs and it's really annoying when people who aren't in the club steal the coffee/tea/milk. Especially when they use the last of the milk. lol. This is a great system!