Apple’s iPhone 6 NFC Chip Is Restricted To Apple Pay

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( — September 17, 2014)  — The news comes by way of Cult of Mac, which confirmed the iPhone 6’s locked-down NFC features in an e-mail conversation with an Apple representative. The phone’s NFC feature is reportedly restricted to iOS developers, and Apple wouldn’t confirm any future plans for the functionality.

Launching in October, Apple Pay will allow iPhone owners to store their payment cards virtually and buy goods by simply tapping their device to a NFC-compatible POS terminal. The feature will also work with iPhone 5, 5s and 5c models, but only when they’re paired with the upcoming Apple Watch (launching in early 2015).

NFC has been available on a variety of Android phones for years, and allows users to beam content from one device to another. On a basic level, you can share photos, videos and contact info between two phones by touching them together. (Typically, NFC initiates the transfer, then the faster Wi-Fi Direct takes over.) You can also use NFC on Android phones to pair them with other Bluetooth devices with a tap, such as Bluetooth speakers and headphones.

It’s surprising to see Apple be so stingy about the iPhone 6’s NFC abilities, but it shouldn’t take more than a software update for Apple to open up NFC to other uses, “which isn’t much of a problem,” one consumer wrote.

 “You don’t need NFC to do the tap-to-transfer data exchange and Apple already provides preferred methods based on their networking stack for that. In fact, Android doesn’t need NFC for any of that either – it was used that way explicitly to provide a feature that differentiated it from Apple. The Android NFC-based mechanisms are, in fact, at a slight disadvantage since they are not mutually compatible between different models of phone, whereas the BT-LE and Wi-Fi mechanisms are (and apply to computers and printers as well).” wrote an I-phone lover in a thread.

And, of course, there is always a question about security of personal data.

“Adding a mobile wallet function to the latest iPhone gives criminal hackers more incentive and opportunity to find fresh vulnerabilities,” says Mike Park, managing consultant at Trustwave.

“Any new additions and functionality to a platform, even ones meant to enhance security, can expand the attack surface,” says Park. “With the introduction of this type of functionality into a platform, these makes every device a possible target.”

The more popular Apple Pay becomes, the more likely cybercriminals will devote resources into cracking in. Research from legit sources already is available showing how to hack into NFC systems.

It’s probable that elite criminal hackers “are looking to steal identities and mass-harvest payment card information as they do in other platforms and verticals now,” Park says.

Apple Pay, the new mobile payments service introduced by Apple this week, could ultimately set the security and privacy benchmarks for digital wallets much higher.

Even so, the hunt for security holes and privacy gaps in Apple’s new digital wallet has commenced. It won’t take long for both white-hat researchers and well-funded criminal hackers to uncover weaknesses that neither Apple nor its banking industry partners thought of.