WIRED now also saying iPhone 6 will have NFC and mobile payments

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WIRED is the latest publication to report that the soon-to-be-announced iPhone 6 will be accompanied by a new mobile payment system using NFC technology.

The company’s next iPhone will feature its own payment platform, sources familiar with the matter told WIRED. In fact, that platform will be one of the hallmark features of the device when it’s unveiled on September 9. We’re told the solution will involve NFC.

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Leaked iPhone 6 schematic doesn’t show 1GB of RAM, but it may indicate NFC on the way

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A set of schematics by GeekBar on Weibo have been making the rounds today, claiming to show both NFC support for the iPhone 6 as well as ‘confirmation’ that the device will feature just 1 GB of RAM, like the iPhone 5s.

Although the site focuses on the 1 GB description at the top of the image, it turns out that the schematic is actually a design for a NAND flash component (a storage chip, the same memory used in iPhones and other mobile devices for storing user data like music and photos) rather than RAM for the SoC.

Todd DeRego, a SoC memory engineer, says that the schematic does not have enough signals for it to be a DRAM interface. He also points out that the AP_TO_NAND text refers to an application processor to NAND link, indicating this memory is actually used as a way of storing the booting firmware and not the main memory of the iPhone. Although the RAM claim is almost certainly untrue, the NFC claim cannot be so easily dismissed.

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Rumor: NFC, wireless charging, improved LTE slated for iPhone 6

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New high-resolution photos surfaced over the weekend showing what is expected to be the much thinner iPhone 6 following a report from Venture Beat that corroborates several other claims that the next generation iPhone will feature a larger display than previous models. Included in that report are also claims that Apple will opt for implementing NFC (near field communication), wireless charging, and improved LTE in the next iPhone refresh expected later this year…

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Analyst: Apple has reached deal with China UnionPay, could include NFC in iPhone 6

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According to Shanghai Mobile analyst Frank Hill, Apple has reached a deal with mobile payment provider China UnionPay that would enable the next iPhone to make purchases at millions of supported Chinese point-of-sale devices. This would work in conjunction with NFC hardware said to be included in the next iPhone model.

UnionPay works with many of China’s major banks, and is the only domestic mobile payment company operating in the country. Several banks have reportedly been invited by UnionPay to participate in the development of a new system that is compatible with iOS devices.

While rumors of NFC in the iPhone have been relatively rare compared to some previous upgrade cycles, this isn’t the first time this year we’ve seen mentions of the technology finally making its way into Apple’s smartphone. Last month a report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that we’d see near-field communication in the upcoming device.

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Tim Cook as good as confirms mobile payment via Touch ID on the way

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When Touch ID was first rumored, there had been much speculation about whether the iPhone 5s would act as an electronic wallet, with payments to retailers authorized by fingerprint. While that hasn’t yet happened, it does now seem clear that it’s on the way.

Asked about mobile payments during yesterday’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook gave what is, in Apple terms, a surprisingly direct response.

The mobile payments area in general is one we’ve been intrigued with. It was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID [...] it’s a big opportunity …  Read more

CES 2014: Smart thermostat EverSense shows off ‘Aura’ iBeacons to intelligently adjust room temperature

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This week at CES 2014, Allure Energy, makers of a $400 smart thermostat Nest competitor called EverSense, showed off an upcoming add-on to its system that uses Apple’s new Bluetooth LE iBeacon technology. Dubbed “Aura,” the small iBeacons will become an extension to the smart EverSense thermostat by allowing iBeacons to detect iOS devices in proximity and adjust the temperature of a room accordingly. After an initial setup, you’ll be able to adjust the temperature from any room with an Aura iBeacon just by entering the room: Read more

Apple hiring developers for next gen payment platform to help retail ‘enter new markets’

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Apple today posted a job listing on its website looking for a Payments Software Engineer that will “help build a next generation payment platform.” Apple says the payment system will consist of integration of payment devices, middleware and acquirers that will “push the boundaries in new markets for Apple Retail.” Read more

Opinion: Why I love the iPhone 5s, and why I’ll be sticking with my 4S

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I like my gadgets, and generally consider myself an early adopter. When my friends are looking at buying a new piece of technology, I’m the one they ask as they know I’ll either own it or have tried it.

So you might be surprised to learn that my phone is an iPhone 4S and that after yesterday’s unveiling of the 5s (no, I don’t know why it suddenly became lower-case either), I’m planning to wait for the iPhone 6 before upgrading.

It’s not that the 5s isn’t impressive from a purely technological viewpoint. It is. A 64-bit phone? That’s a pretty incredible achievement. Delegating sensor functions to a separate chip to enable constant use without the usual battery-drain? Brilliant. A truly state-of-the-art fingerprint sensor? Fantastic. A larger phone sensor with lower pixel-density? Exactly the right approach, and I was delighted to see Apple refusing to join in the stupid megapixel race.

But I’m still not going to buy one, and the reason for that is two-fold. Before I get to that, one piece of context. In the U.S., upgrading can be a no-brainer as you end up on the same tariff either way. In the UK, it’s better value long-term to buy the phone outright at full retail (around $1120 for the 64Gb 5s), so you have to balance incremental benefit over other gadgets you could buy with the same money – like a new iPad. So, back to those two reasons … Read more

New quick app switching & other concepts show options on the table for iOS 7 [Videos]

With the recent departure of longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall, many expect some big changes in iOS 7. Not only is Jony Ive taking over design responsibilities related to iOS, but also Apple is increasingly coming under criticism for its aging core iOS apps and highly requested features already available on other platforms that it has yet to implement. We discussed some of the big software features iOS 7 might have in store, but today we present a roundup of the best iOS 7 concepts we could find starting with a new one from the creator of jailbreak tweak Auxo.

Sentry, the original designer behind the popular Auxo jailbreak tweak, yesterday posted the new Quick App Switching concept above (via iFun). While Auxo provided a screenshot of running apps integrated into the iOS multitasking tray, the concept above takes a different approach and aims to add speed to the app switching process.

This next concept comes from YouTube user imjeanmarc and shows a tray accessible from the lock screen, providing quick toggles for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.:

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Can Apple get away with another “S” iPhone?

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There have been many rumors this year about what upgrades Apple will include in its anticipated annual iPhone refresh. Most agree Apple will move to release two iPhones, but there is some debate about what those phones will be.

Rumor has it that Apple is working on a low-cost iPhone that will do away with the current iPhone design and instead use a new plastic case with a curved back similar to previous iPods. Despite being a less expensive device, that could make things even trickier for Apple to impress with an iPhone 5S upgrade that is largely expected to retain the “old” design of the currently shipping iPhone 5. The devices from competitors are making things even more difficult for Apple’s expected “S” upgrade. Rumors of a 4.8-inch iPhone prototype that recently surfaced don’t seem likely for the next iPhone, but that hasn’t stopped mainstream media and analysts from reporting that Apple is losing out on iPhone sales as consumers opt for larger screen devices. However, that might now be the case, at least not in the United States, with Strategy Analytics and NPD estimating Apple beat Samsung to become the No.1 phone vendor in Q4 2012. Will consumers want or expect a larger screen on the next iPhone, or will Apple’s usual minor refresh suffice?

What did past S upgrades have? Read more

Apple’s AuthenTec sells off embedded security solutions division, keeps the fingerprint & NFC tech

In July, a 10K filing showed that Apple acquired security company AuthenTec for $356 million. At the time, we noted Apple was presumably after the company’s various fingerprint-related technologies, while companies such as Samsung, Motorola, and others entered in deals with AuthenTec for its secure VPNs, encryption algorithms, and security-related products. Today, NFCWorld (via TechCrunch) reported Authentec has now sold its embedded security solutions division to NFC company Inside Secure. The sale would seem to indicate that Apple was indeed specifically after the company’s fingerprint and NFC solutions:

The sale suggests that Apple’s interest in acquiring Authentec lies with the company’s innovative combined fingerprint and NFC solution, which is not part of the division being acquired by Inside Secure, and will lead to renewed speculation that Apple will include NFC in future iPhones and other devices…. NFC and contactless chip provider Inside Secure is to acquire the embedded security systems division of Authentec, the fingerprint and secure solutions specialist which Apple agreed to buy for US$356m in July 2012. The transaction is valued at up to US$48m.

To get a hold of AuthenTec’s Embedded Security Solutions Division, Inside Secure will reportedly pay $38 million in cash and another $10 million “subject to completion of certain post-closing transactions.” Products the division is responsible for are currently used in hundreds of millions of mobile and networking devices worldwide, with customers ranging from Samsung, Nokia, LG, and Motorola to HBO, Cisco, and Texas Instruments. Last year, the division brought in sales of $25.3 million. Read more