The NFC chips on iPhones might have a bigger role to play in future if a feature speculated to be a part of iOS 12 indeed becomes a reality – that of using the phones to gain access to a hotel room or using it as a virtual transit card for transportation convenience. This, if true, will make for a significant improvement in its scope considering that the NFC enabled iPhones are only used for making secure Apple Pay transactions at the moment.
According to sources, Apple would enable the above feature by granting developers full access to the NFC chip that comes integrated into every iPhone devices. In fact, the trend started with iOS 11 itself which first allowed third-party developers to have access to the NFC but in a limited manner. All of that will likely be eased with iOS version 12.
In addition to being used as a virtual key for opening hotel rooms, the same feature can also be used for gaining access to their cars and homes as well. Using the same as a virtual transit card is also being actively speculated which will enable iPhone users to pay for public transit services using their handsets itself. The said feature is already active in a limited manner in countries like Russia, China, Japan and the US and UK.
With the new update, the feature will be available to all iPhone users provided their handsets come with the NFC chips embedded in them. That applies to iPhone 6, and later models which are NFC enabled though the initial functionality for the said chip has been to communicate with POS devices for making secured payments via Apple Pay.
In fact, Apple employees are already believed to have started using the feature that is enabling them to gain entry to offices and buildings within the company’s Cupertino campus using just their iPhones. That again has been pulled off thanks to a partnership with HID Global that developed the security feature installed at the campus.
Some hotels too have been enabling their guests to have access to their rooms using their iPhones. However, the feature is Bluetooth based which makes it less secure compared to NFC with one of the security hazard being that the Bluetooth based system have greater range compared to NFC and is hence more hack prone. With the new feature, bringing the iPhone in close vicinity of the NFC terminal will be enough to wake up the device, and do all that is necessary to authenticate the right user.
Apple is expected to announce details of the above feature at the upcoming WWC event which will run from June 4 to 8.