Everyone seems to be expecting a bigger iPhone come this Fall, but what other surprises might Apple be hiding? It's possible that that the new iPhone's 'other' killer feature could be Near Field Communication (NFC), offering a digital wallet and lots of other cool goodies.
9to5Mac discovered the NFC feature by analyzing hardware code dumps from two previously discovered iPhone prototype devices floating around Cupertino, both of which feature larger displays. An NFC feature, which Apple fans have been speculating about for years now, could tie in quite nicely with Apple's recently announced Passbook service by taking things a bit further than discount cards and movie tickets.
From the beginning, it's seemed like NFC was the one crucial feature Passbook was missing. Coupled with a fairly recent NFC patent from Apple (seen below), it seems like now is the logical time to integrate NFC with the iPhone.
NFC has some other awesome features, too, of course - a great way to share files with nearby iDevices, for instance - but it could potentially help Apple to generate a ton of cash. By tapping into Apple's already massive iTunes credit card database, it would be possible to generate a not-so-negligible sum by processing wireless payments. On the other hand, if that's not a market that Apple wants to get into, they could leave the actually processing to some other company, or even open the system up to a variety of partners.
Regardless, it seems like a logical next step for Apple to put NFC in the iPhone, and a sure fire way to make sure they continue to occupy a highly competitive place in the market in the face of growing competition. On the other hand, NFC is a feature that iPhone fans have been expecting for a while now, and Apple's probably been testing it out for a while. Consider Apple's penchant for secrecy, it's perfectly possible that both NFC and the bigger screen could just be among the myriad prototypes set up and leaked to foil the press.
Image via: Patently Apple