Apple finally added NFC to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but if you were hoping that the company’s new NFC chip will allow you to pair speakers or integrate NFC tags into your favorite apps, you’ll have to keep waiting. Apple has put its NFC chip on lockdown, at least for now.
Sources at Apple have confirmed to Cult of Mac that the NFC chip on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will only be used for Apple Pay when it launches this week.
Like Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, Apple is keeping NFC closed off from developers at launch. The company declined to comment on future plans for the NFC chip, but unlike Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, you won’t find any Apple marketing materials promoting the addition of NFC as a major iPhone 6 feature, as it’s touted as just a component of Apple Pay.
NFC products can be put to all sorts of creative uses, from pairing devices, to sharing files, launching apps, or even automating your entire house. Bluetooth LE has been Apple’s go-to communication protocol for iBeacons and other location services, but opening the NFC chip up to developers could quickly expand the iPhone’s capabilities in the future.
All is not lost for developers hoping to see NFC API’s in the future, as the NXP-manufactured NFC chip Apple is using in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus appears to be capable of providing open access to the NFC controller, according to experts PC Advisor spoke with at Rapid NFC chip.
Apple has already showed that its NFC chip has extended capabilities beyond Apple Pay. For example, the Apple Watch was demoed unlocking a hotel room with NFC at last week’s Apple event. That indicates some partners will get NFC access before it’s opened to all developers.
Considering that its touch-less payments system is brand spanking new, it’s not surprising Apple wants to keep access tight while testing the NFC waters.