Apple has locked down the iPhone 6’s NFC chip, which it uses for Apple Pay mobile payments, and it can’t be used by any other apps, the company confirmed this week. So you shouldn’t expect third-party apps that let you use NFC tags or pay for your subway ride with the phone, at least at the beginning, according to GigaOm.
Instead, Apple is emphasizing Apple Pay, and barely mentioning the NFC chip’s contactless communication capabilities in its specs.
But that’s not to say that NFC will be locked down forever on iPhones. A clue to how Apple will handle it can be seen with Touch ID, which debuted last year on the iPhone 5S and was originally restricted to unlocking the phone. But with iOS 8, which will be pushed to users this week, Apple has opened up Touch ID to third-parties such as PayPal and 1Password that will be taking advantage of the fingerprint scanner.
Apple could also open up the iPhone’s NFC to third-party developers in the same way — eventually. People tinkering with NFC-equipped Android devices have come up with some very interesting applications, and it would be silly to exclude NFC from one of Apple’s biggest strengths: Its large and creative developer community.