Apple will enable the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 to make wireless purchases, according to an online report.
Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group, told Bloomberg Jan. 25 that the next-generation iPad and iPhone will feature payment technology leveraging NFC (near field communication), which allows close-range wireless communication between devices. Apple arch-rival Google has already included NFC capability in its Android 2.3 build, available on smartphones such as the Samsung Nexus S.
Doherty used unnamed "engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project" as his source, according to paraphrasing in the Bloomberg report, and suggested the payment service would begin "as early as mid-2011." In theory, the next iPad and iPhone could tap an owner's bank or credit-card account directly, allowing purchases with a single tap or swipe of the device.
If Apple indeed introduces a mobile-payment service based on NFC, it would have tech-world competition besides Google: Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie recently suggested that his company was considering NFC technology for its own products.
Apple itself remains predictably closed-lipped about any upcoming products. If it follows past years' product launch dates, however, the next-generation iPad will make its debut in April, with the new iPhone following in June or July. Apple CEO Steve Jobs' recent leave of absence, reportedly for health reasons, means that some other executive-most likely COO Tim Cook, who continues to run the company's day-to-day operations in his boss's absence-will conduct the actual unveiling of both products.
In any case, rumors are flying fast and furious about the possible new features in Apple's upcoming products. In a Jan. 12 posting, for example, the blog Boy Genius Report suggested that the next version of the iPad will lack a home button, and instead rely on multi-touch gestures to navigate the home screen. Meanwhile, a small debate has erupted over whether the iPad 2 or even iPad 3 will feature the company's proprietary high-resolution Retina Display.
"I think the DigiTimes story probably got the resolution right, but the iPad version wrong," IDC research manager Tom Mainelli reportedly told PC World, referencing a Jan. 20 article in DigiTimes suggesting the iPad 2's resolution would be 2048 x 1536. "Our sources say Apple has requested that manufacturers begin work on displays with that resolution for iPad 3."
NFC technology, along with new hardware additions, would possibly help Apple blunt increased competition from other manufacturers intent on breaking into the tablet market. RIM is planning to release a 7-inch tablet, the PlayBook, and companies such as Motorola have Android-based tablets slated to hit store shelves over the next several quarters.