Rumors of Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology in the iPhone have been around since before the iPhone 4 was released in 2010. The company has been awarded several patents dealing with the technology - as well as a payment service called iWallet. Yet two iPhone releases have come and gone since the rumors began and NFC has remained absent.
Now, however, there is evidence suggesting that Apple may still be working on NFC integration and iWallet. Patently Apple is reporting today that Apple has been awarded a previously unknown patent for iWallet.
The patent covers how the iWallet software creates rules governing financial transactions with subsidiary accounts - i.e., a credit card linked to the user's iTunes account. The patent hints at several interesting features of iWallet, including NFC on the iPhone, and using iTunes for handling credit car statements.
As always a patent doesn't necessarily mean anything about what we'll be seeing in the immediate future. All it really means is that Apple is exploring the technology. That said, NFC seems to be gaining in popularity. Several Android phones now have the technology, and Google has launched their own payment service - Google Wallet. What's more, a MasterCard executive hinted strongly at the beginning of February that Apple had NFC technology in the works for inclusion in the next iPhone.
What do you think? Would you like to see NFC in the next iPhone? Let us know in the comments.