A new Apple patent filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals that the company is working on different methods for gifting of iTunes content, one method also employs the use of NFC, which is currently not found on any Apple mobile device.
Apple’s mobile devices have long ignored NFC or near-field communication technology, which is widely used for payments and content transfer. The technology is present on almost all mobile devices that run on rival platforms, but Apple is yet to incorporate it in its devices. There have been rumors that the next generation iPhone will come with NFC, and if the methods described in this patent are ever to become a part of reality, then Apple would definitely have to add the technology to its future devices.
The patent lists three methods through which iTunes users can gift content such as movies, TV shows, music and books to each other. There’s one method where the gifter selects content to be gifted on iTunes, their account is charged and the giftee receives a notification to download that content from iTunes free of cost. A gifter can also gift content that they already have in their iTunes library, this method is similar to the previous one, in this case also the gifter’s iTunes account gets immediately charged and the giftee receives a notification to download the content. For both of these methods to work, the gifter needs to have an internet connection. The method that depends upon NFC partially eliminates this requirement.
A gifter would be able to gift content from their iTunes library to a giftee through NFC, the giftee will immediately receive the content over that NFC connection but it would be locked. Once the gifter’s device is connected to the internet, their account will be charged and the giftee’s device will automatically receive “keys” which will unlock the content. At this point in time no Apple device has NFC, though it should be kept in mind that virtually all of Apple’s mobile devices are expected to be upgraded in the next few months. New iPhones are expected in September and new iPads in November, if the iPhones come with NFC then there would be a huge possibility that the iPads would have this technology as well. Only then we might be able to see the methods described in the patent become widely usable.