A patent from Apple for a 'Touch Screen RFID Tag Reader' has recently been published, which has given rise to speculation about the use of the technology in future iPhone models to enable NFC capabilities for, amongst other things, mobile payments.
In the patent filing (opens in new tab) Apple states that the "RFID antenna could be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel could now additionally function as an RFID transponder." Integrating the technology into the device's screen would save space as there is then no need for an additional RFID antenna.
For Apple, this could mean that they will have the option of using their own NFC technology, despite recent rumors around a possible partnership with Jack Dorsey’s Square.
This technology could further extend the NFC concept and offer new possibilities in an area which is seeing rapid adoption by smartphone makers. With a simple swipe movement, future owners of the iPhone could be using their handset to keylessly open a house or car door, making payments or any number of imaginable functions.
Apple has assembled a large number of NFC-related patents, although what form of NFC technology, if any, they will utilise in the upcoming iPhone 5 is, as with many things about the device, unclear.