Next iPhone to enable remote computing?

Rumors of near-field communications chips in the next-generation iPhone resurface, but this time with the indication they could be used to access a user's Mac desktop settings and data remotely.

Cult of Mac says an NFC-equipped iPhone could transfer home desktop data and settings to a remote Mac.
Cult of Mac says an NFC-equipped iPhone could transfer home desktop data and settings to a remote Mac. Tom Krazit/CNET

Could the NFC chips rumored to be inside a future iPhone be used for more than just mobile payments?

That's what a source tells Apple blog Cult of Mac. The unnamed source asserts that Apple is researching ways to use near-field communication (NFC) for enabling remote computing.

According to Cult of Mac, here's how it would work:

If users wave a NFC-equipped iPhone at a NFC Mac (they need to be in close proximity to interact), the Mac will load all their applications, settings and data. It will be as though they are sitting at their own machine at home or work. When the user leaves, and the NFC-equipped iPhone is out of range, the host machine returns to its previous state.

Essentially, the Mac would use NFC to authenticate with the phone. A user's bookmarks, address book, passwords, preferences, and settings would be stored on the phone so that when they sat down to any Mac it functioned as if they were using their home computer. As soon as the connection was lost between the Mac and the iPhone--as in, by moving the devices farther than half a foot away from each other--the Mac's original settings would be restored.

Cult of Mac's source cautions that this is still very much in the research phase. But it does line up with previous rumors and an actual Apple hire this summer.

In August it was first rumored that Apple had placed a large order for NFC chips from NXP Semiconductor. Those chips allow data to be sent wirelessly over very short distances, around 4 inches. It sends data from a chip inside a device like an iPhone, to a payment terminal, or another device.

Apple's subsequent hire of an expert in mobile payments led to assumptions that it was that use the company had in mind. But while mobile payments is an obvious application of NFC, it's not the only one. It could also be used to transfer data between devices very near each other, say an iPhone and an NFC-equipped Mac.

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.

 

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