As more and more Android, Windows Phone, and even BlackBerry smartphones support NFC, Apple’s becoming more and more of an outlier thanks to its hesitance to adopt the technology. Back when the iPhone 5 came out, we heard Apple talk a little about why it wasn’t jumping on the NFC bandwagon, claiming that NFC just wasn’t necessary for what it was doing in Passbook. As we look forward to the imminent launch of the iPhone 5S, will NFC make a surprise showing? We can’t say just yet, but a new Apple patent makes it clear that the company still has a few tricks up it sleeve when it comes to this tech.
The Apple patent details a method for gifting iTunes content from one user to another by means of NFC support on their phones. Basically, it’s like Android Beam with the addition of DRM. Of course, that severely limits use when a data connection to the iTunes servers isn’t available, so this isn’t going to be quite as useful as other NFC-based file transfer schemes.
The important thing isn’t so much this new iTunes functionality, but that it suggests Apple could still come around to embracing NFC. The question now could me more about “when” than “if.”