Apple finally brought NFC on board its iPhones this year, but when you get your hands on one (later this week, perhaps), you won't be able to use the NFC chip for anything but Apple Pay.
Yes, according to the Cult of Mac, Cupertino just wants the NFC capability for its mobile payments system, and nothing more – third-party devs are out in the cold when it comes to including NFC functionality with their iOS apps.
NFC isn't just for mobile payments, of course, and can be used for a myriad of things such as, for example, sharing files by tapping devices together. Unfortunately these nifty capabilities won't be made use of – at least not to begin with. Apple may open up NFC further in the future.
It's not a great surprise given that Apple also locked down its fingerprint sensor which was new with last year's iPhone, and kept that purely for unlocking the handset, and validating iTunes purchases. However, the plan is to open the sensor up so devs can use it with iOS 8 (which is arriving tomorrow). Maybe iOS 9 will see the same story with the NFC chip.
But for now, the NFC chip is pretty much useless to UK users, as Apple Pay is only going live in the US for the time being (in October).
It remains to be seen how successful Apple Pay will be, as well – digital wallets have not proved a particularly easy vehicle to push thus far. Apple, of course, does have a lot of muscle in the US, and has partnerships with Visa, MasterCard and American Express, and has signed a number of big banks up, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup (from which it will take a fee for transactions).
On the downside, some big name retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have taken a stand against Apple Pay, preferring a rival system called CurrentC (which doesn't require the retailer to install NFC-compatible hardware).