iPhone 5: No NFC, no easy iWallet

Carriers say Near Field Communication functions that will enable easy pay-by-phone are not expected in next release.

In anticipation of a new iPhone this summer, major wireless carriers say Apple won't include Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the iPhone 5, according to the U.K.'s The Independent. Sources at "several of the largest mobile operators in the U.K." told the paper Apple disclosed in meetings that NFC won't be on the feature list of the next iPhone, expected in June or July.

Apparently Apple told carriers across the pond that a lack of a clear standard across the industry is to blame for NFC's exclusion from the upcoming iPhone. Instead, Apple is reported to be working on its own adaptation of NFC, allowing users to link payments through iTunes when waving the phone in front of a dedicated NFC reader.

The Independent's report contradicts a Bloomberg report from January that said Apple was building NFC into the iPad 2 and iPhone 5. However, with the iPad 2 already available (and no NFC capabilities), it appears Bloomberg's sources were wrong this time. If The Independent is right, we won't see NFC on the iPhone 5 either, but rather next year, two iPhone models down the line.

NFC made its mainstream smartphone debut last year when Google introduced the technology on its Nexus S Android phone. NFC uses a combination of hardware and software to let you essentially turn your phone into a wallet. This allows you to simply wave your Android device in front of a retailer's sensor and have your purchase immediately placed onto your credit card or banking account. Google's Eric Schmidt has high hopes in NFC, saying this could replace credit cards in the future.

We have yet to see major initiatives from retailers using NFC (given that the number of Android phones supporting the technology is still somehow limited). Google kick started NFC use in Portland, where the company handed out stickers and other promotional gear to local businesses for Google Places. The stickers have NFC technology built in, so when Nexus S owners tap their phones to a sticker, they'll get information on the business from Google's Place pages.

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Daniel Ionescu

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