It’s iPhone season again, just in case you hadn’t noticed. We’ve been bombarded by hundreds of supposed leaks, photos, videos, rumours and educated guesses. All of these have been promising additions, changes, new features and the like, but it seems in recent days like the rumours have been going in the opposite direction.
Let’s take a sample. First, after months of speculation, it seems that Apple has finally chosen not to include NFC in their new iPhone 5. There was a wide assumption that they would do so, seeing as Passbook e-wallet functionality has been baked into the new iOS 6 software. It’s a feature that the iPhone’s main rivals include as standard. The choice not to include it seems like a regressive step. The technology is certainly ready even if the customers aren’t. It isn’t even prohibitively expensive, so they can’t claim it’s to do with keeping costs down. Heck, even the BlackBerry Curves now have NFC contactless payments built in.
On the world’s most anticipated (and probably most expensive) smartphone it seems like an unusual move to create the software and then fail to implement the hardware. That means it will be another year before we see iPhone 5 NFC technology, putting them two years behind BlackBerry and Samsung in the contactless payment wars. If this kind of technology takes off, and it really could do with the push from EE, Vodafone and O2, then Apple will be at a major disadvantage in the feature stakes.
It’s possible that Apple are just being cautious. Uptake and usage is not high (from both merchants and consumers) so to add it as standard might not make sense. There could be NFC models in certain countries where uptake has proven to be higher. We’ve only seen one phone broken down in Asia, so we don’t know if this is the EU or American version. Another reason they may not have implemented it is over security concerns raised at the Black Hat conference over summer. Charlie Harris demonstrated a method for NFC linking a phone’s browser to an infected web page without the user’s consent. This can be done even if the phone is in someone’s pocket and locked. Scary stuff.
Another feature that is not only not going to be added, but will actually be removed, is the Audience noise-cancelling processor chip. The firm said that Apple instead has decided to return to in house audio, a move which might quite likely seek to give the tyrannical company even more control over its products and cut costs.