Near Field Communication (NFC) is certainly the biggest and potentially most exciting development that will come with the iPhone 5 when it is launched next year if reports and various hints published online are to be believed.
As reported earlier, there's a strong chance that Apple is planning to use NFC to enable seamless takeover by the iPhone 5 of any Apple Mac with the required upgrade. It's worth noting that ALL Mac computers (including the Mac Pro) come with Bluetooth and WiFi by default. Here are five potential uses of NFC for the forthcoming iPhone 5.
Apple's plan with the iPhone 5 is apparently to turn the device into the equivalent of a wireless USB drive that can sync personal data and act as an indentification token through what seems to be a virtual machine. Think of it as the equivalent of Mobile.me on a phone but without the cloud bit and without the $99 price tag.
The other use for NFC for the iPhone 5 is as an electronic wallet. Given the fact that your iPhone is defacto linked to your iTunes account (and therefore to your credit card and bank details), Apple could very easily turn your phone (or your iPod Touch) into an e-wallet; to enable any physical purchase, just swipe and optionally type in your 4-digit passcode, like for the contactless Barclaycard (see a demo here).
Another fairly obvious application is using the iPhone 5 as an electronic badge or ticket. You can already use your iPhone with the appropriate application to access various ticket venues. And it is not surprising that Apple has indeed filed a patent application for NFC e-tickets.
Ditto for electronic badges; again it is worth noting that Apple is already in talks with Gemalto to get an integrated SIM that could potentially offer some very exciting NFC possibilities.
In line with our vision of an office without a computer (or even a laptop), comes with the next use of NFC for the iPhone 5; as a mobile desktop replacement. Irrelevant? Not well, not if Citrix has its way in its quest for the Nirvana Phone. Check the video below for further details.
NFC doesn't have the necessary firepower to sustain the kind of transfer rate required by the iPhone 5 to act like a proper desktop replacement.
However, it could potentially initiate the "handshake" between devices (e.g. monitor, mouse and keyboard) and leave other, more capable, short range communication technologies like Bluetooth v2.1 or Wireless HDMI take over. Oh and if only Apple could bring wireless charging to the iPhone 5.
In a similar way, NFC could turn the iPhone 5 into the next Apple TV which is a theme we pulled out for our April fool back in 2009 (with the secret hope that it would happen eventually).
The idea back then was to have an Apple-branded wireless HDMI unit that connects to your television set and the new Apple TV fits the bill minus the wireless charging and wireless HDMI features. NFC could be used to synchronise this elusive wireless HDMI unit with the iPhone 5 to ensure, for example, the seamless transition between screens while watching a movie.