Can Apple's iPhone 6 make NFC user friendly?

Can Apple's iPhone 6 make NFC user friendly?

Summary: NFC is a nice technology that just hasn't been implemented well. Perhaps Apple changes that equation.

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Apple's iPhone 6 will reportedly implement Near Field Communications technology for mobile payments and other uses. If Apple goes the NFC route, nearly every smartphone will have the technology. What's unclear is whether anyone will actually use it.

nfc turned off
No one has given me a reason to turn on NFC. Will Apple succeed?

Wired reported that Apple is planning a mobile payment system that would use NFC somehow. For techheads, the move could equate to a big yawn. Android devices have had NFC for a while and in theory you could use mobile payments on these smartphones. Windows Phones have NFC too.

To recap, NFC technology enables:

  • Mobile payments with a tap.
  • Speedy swapping of data.
  • Identity systems.

Then why are we wound up about Apple using NFC? We're hoping that maybe Apple does NFC right.

To date, NFC is a nice technology that was built to advance radio-frequency identification. The implementation of NFC has been clunky to say the least. Most of us wouldn't notice if NFC somehow was removed from the phone completely.

The user workflow is one reason we're not all tapping our phones to pay for goods. Samsung talks about beaming docs and files with NFC, but few of us actually do it in the wild. An informal poll around the office found many of us have NFC turned off.

Here's the issue: There aren't any applications that would give us a good reason to turn NFC on. Maybe Apple can. If not, NFC will remain a nice underutilized technology.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone, Smartphones

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26 comments
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  • How could it be better?

    I tap things to my wife all the time. I also tap my phone to my Bluetooth stereo and the music starts playing there automatically. While it's use may not be widespread, it could hardly be simpler to use. I don't see how Apple can improve much on what is already one of the most user friendly things there is.

    The major way in which Apple's hopping on the NFC bandwagon might improve things is that it will finally be ubiquitous, so more people will (maybe) be inspired to use it.
    x I'm tc
    • I agree, not sure what sort of poll

      Mr. dignan is conducting because as we all know tech bloggers certainly have their fingers on the pulse of the everyday person such as PC's are dead Phablets like the Galaxy Note are going to flop, nobody wants a small tablet, Tablet's that were once said to kill off PC's well they are now dead all of a sudden.

      Everyone I know who has an Adnroid phone beams photos to each other all the time. and trust me we are not talking tech junkies. I'm talking my Mother in Law tapping pictures of her grandson to her husband.

      Never mind the fact that NFC has been incorported in sercurity badges in offices around the world, NFC is used in many major mass transit. It's huge in Asia.

      where do these tech bloggers come from?

      So in two weeks Apple will have reinvented the smartwatch, the phone and NFC and people wonder why there is so much hate on Apple. It's not really the company itself it's their fanboy tech blogger that overglorify everything they do.
      jonandkelly
      • Apple ...

        Apple has brought us simple UI, reinvented the music industry, reinvented the phone, reinvented the tablet computer, so yes, I think they do deserve some credit...
        prof123
    • And that's it

      Apple hops on bandwagon then NFC is everywhere and maybe we'll beam stuff to each other. Right now you need two Android devices in the same place and although that OS has the market share you rarely find two folks that want to swap info with them. It's iPhone meets Android device or whatever.

      I've also found you need to tell people they need to turn it on and why. Simply too much friction, but if Apple makes NFC sound like a must have then it'll get moving.
      Larry Dignan
      • Utterly absurd

        BlackBerry and Windows phone have also had NFC for a long time. Apple has a tiny market share compared to Android, BlackBerry and Windows combined.
        sagec
      • Wow...

        And you call yourself a tech blogger/editor? Other platforms, namely WP has had NFC for years, and it is brain dead simple.

        If you cannot figure out how to tap to send data via NFC, then you are definitely an iPhone user.
        omdguy
    • You're the far reaching exception.

      Not a single person I work with using Samsung and Nexus phone uses NFC ever. This is for a group of engineers.
      Bruizer
    • The iZombies...

      ...do anything their cult tells them to do. People with Android or WP are skeptical of this technology because they can see the potential for abuse, but if the church says it's safe, none of the fanboys would ever dare to doubt it.
      siskol
    • NFc by NEC

      Check out the link

      http://in.nec.com/en_IN/products/near-field-communication/
      Aevin@...
  • "Then why are we wound up about Apple using NFC?"

    Not convinced we are, Larry, sorry.

    And why would Apple make a difference? No info on that ...

    I suspect the main issue people don't is nothing to do with the type of phone ... it's more about lack of trust with banks. Not sure Apple can or will want to change that.
    Heenan73
    • don't get it

      Maybe he thinks the last 18% of the market (crApple's share) will somehow make a difference. Personally, I don't see how using my phone is any easier than using my credit/debit card. And why would I want a middleman in the picture?
      CelticBrewer
  • What the &^%%$$ are you talking about?

    How in what way shape or form as NFC been clunky or non user friendly? Please explain what is so difficult about going into setting turning it on and then using it? Android couldn't make it any easier. You don't even have to access a special app. After you turn it on, no matter all you do is hold it to an NFC device and it does the rest. When using NFC to beam over a photo hom much more user friendly does "Tap here' need to be.
    jonandkelly
    • It's easier than bluetooth

      Just turn on, press share and tap, that's better (although shorter distance) than Bluetooth which requires you to

      turn it on, pair devices (sometimes more hassle than necessary and impossible between apple and other devices) then every time you want to connect you have to find their device in your list, make sure you aren't connected to any other devices, then share.
      pseudodragon52
  • I haven't been to many businesses that accept NFC payments.

    NFC has been around for years, but most businesses I frequent don't accept NFC payments. It doesn't matter how easy NFC is to use if businesses are not willing to adopt it.
    OhPlease987
    • Travel outside the land of the Apple

      And you might find NFC payments at every card terminal.
      It is Apple holding back the trend in your country.
      warboat
      • The land of Apple?

        @warboat - What land is that? Are the Southeastern states in the USA the land of Apple? I shop at some major, national and regional grocery store chains, warehouse clubs, auto service chains, restaurants, etc. In my experience, the businesses I have been to are not encouraging people to make NFC payments. Most of them are probably not yet equipped to handle NFC. Plenty of consumers I encounter use Android phones, and yet I have never seen anyone make an NFC payment in real life.
        OhPlease987
      • I also didn't see people using NFC in Europe last year

        I took a trip to Spain and Italy in May 2013, but I didn't notice anyone making NFC payments there either.
        OhPlease987
  • How long after folks use NFC for mobile payments.....

    .... will the hacks and scams arrive? Why did I even ask the question?
    jclowes
  • not dead

    I use NFC daily, have a tag next to my bed to put my phone into silent mode at night and launch the clock app, one at work to silence until I leave. My wife and I swap documents quickly and any snaps of the kids I have taken during the day are quickly copied to the family tablet to view (or often edit and scribble on). About the only thing I don't use it for is mobile payments, as my bank doesn't support it, but I have a contactless card for. NFC isn't dead by any stretch, and to be fair apple not adopting it so far has been a big criticism, so kudos if they do.
    rich_bown
  • NFC is fine

    the US has just been lazy to implement it. just like we were lazy to implement every other major technology advance in the last few decades. the US has become great at coming up with innovations but one of the worst developed nations for infrastructure deployment in the world. plenty of other countries use NFC extensively for public transport and payments already.
    theoilman