updated 12:35 pm EDT, Tue August 17, 2010
iPhone tests using near-field tech from NXP
Apple's plans for an iPhone with near-field wireless gained solidity today as a rumor claimed that prototypes already exist. The company is reportedly testing NFC chips made by NXP Semiconductor and is already using them for mobile payment tests. TechCrunch didn't elaborate further but noted Apple could switch to Broadcom or another firm for the finished product.
While unconfirmed, the tip would be supported by Apple hiring Benjamin Vigier for a Mobile Commerce group and implies that Apple is moving quickly enough that it could have NFC onboard the fifth-generation iPhone, likely to launch next summer.
It's still unknown how Apple is approaching the use of NFC, but it will most likely have to adopt standardized approaches for at least some areas. Nokia has already said it plans to use near-field in all its 2011 smartphones and could make any implementation it uses the most common for payment in public transit, retail stores and at concerts. Japan's FeliCa standard is also very likely as it's used heavily by most of the country's phones today.
Other devices like the iPod touch and iPad could also be used for traditional NFC, although most other uses have been for short-range transfers between devices rather than commerce.