It has been decided: NFC is not cool. It will remain uncool until further notice—or until Apple integrates it into iOS. Which is…soon? Apple has filed a patent application for NFC-based media gifting that would allow users to gift media to one another from iTunes or from their own libraries.
Apple already has a method in place for gifting media content from iTunes to other iOS users. But at present, there’s no way to transfer media files directly between devices. There are obviously some murky legal areas with device-to-device file transfer.
Apple’s new patent, which AppleInsider first discovered, outlines a couple of different methods of media file transfer that involve digital rights management and authentication keys.
Before anyone gets excited, Apple isn’t offering anyone a free lunch. You won’t be able to make digital “mix-tapes” for your friends with this. The idea behind all of the gifting techniques is that the giver purchases the media file and then transfers it to the recipient.
In one method, you could select multiple files to send to a recipient and authorize a charge to your iTunes account. The media content will then transfer to the recipient, who is presumably standing right next to you, at which point the recipient can send an acceptance message which would transmit his or her account information to your device. Your device would then transmit a gift request to the online digital media provider, and an authorization key will be sent to the recipient.
Another method would allow you to gift a song that’s already playing on your device by tapping a button.
And if there’s no Internet connection available, you can send a locked file to a recipient, which can be redeemed when he/she can access the Internet. Or you can just send the key without the file, and the recipient can download the file later.
Apple applied for a similar, non-NFC file-sharing patent last summer, but that patent focused primarily on resale and loans rather than gifting. Around the same time, Amazon was granted a patent on a similar system, the only difference being that it called for a centralized marketplace, whereas Apple’s is distributed.
So does this mean we might see NFC-based file-sharing in future versions of iOS? It’s possible, but not a guarantee.
Either way, some of Apple’s recent patents are looking pretty awesome. Last month, Apple filed a patent on a processor that would manage phone power between charges. Shortly thereafter, Apple acquired Passif, maker of low-energy chip technology.
Image source: radioshack.com