Mobile payments may be the least interesting thing the NFC capability in the iPhone 6 does. Will it help you pair your phone with your wireless Beats headphones?
NFC chips have three modes: “card emulation” (for payments and ticketing), “peer-to-peer,” and “reader/writer.” The second two open up some interesting possibilities for device pairing, data sharing, and NFC tag scanning. Peer-to-peer mode allows one device to quickly pair with another powered device to exchange files or data. The data can be exchanged via NFC or by Bluetooth Low Energy, which the iPhone 6 also supports. For instance, a phone with an NFC chip could pair with Bluetooth headphones or wireless speakers with an NFC chip inside — like Beats speakers, for instance. A more functional use of the peer-to-peer mode involves printing. Many printer manufacturers are now baking an NFC chip into their products. This would let iPhone 6 users tap a printer to send a document for printing. It might also enable simpler file exchange between two iPhones. Today Apple has the AirDrop peer-to-peer file sharing feature in iOS 7, but that is a closed, proprietary technology that isn’t available to developers. An NFC approach might be more open to them. NFC’s reader/writer mode focuses on the NFC chip reading non-powered NFC “tags.” For example, if an NFC tag is attached to a poster, an NFC smartphone can “tap” the tag to access the information stored there. The phone might then display a map to a store, product information, and even a link to a “buy” page.