Apple’s iTravel Patent Could Threaten Android’s NFC Future

July 11, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Looks like Apple is getting more teeth for attacking its rivals. A newly approved patent request from Apple, according to experts, may stop its rivals from using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

Apple was granted a patent for travel-related check-ins using NFC technology Tuesday. In the patent Apple says how a portable electronic device can store and transmit data related to seat reservations and passenger identification with the help of a travel management app.

The feature makes use of both NFC and the RFID tags in government issued ID cards and could be the secret behind the new iOS6 feature called Passbook.

The ‘iTravel’ app mentioned in the patent can help the user search and check into flights, book a seat and get the reservation info from the site or email. The patent request filed way back in 2008.

However, observers are looking at the development curiously as many believe that such a patent request is more aimed at attacking or blocking rivals from creating similar applications than protect an idea developed by Apple.

The picture is clearer considering the pace at which NFC technology is being pursued by major Apple rivals including Samsung.

Samsung has recently rolled out a device called Tectiles which can bring NFC to any device and has NFC in its Galaxy Nexus smartphone. With Xperia SmartTags, Sony too is adding the NFC power to Xperia devices.

However, this patent which can be interpreted in a variety of ways can adversely affect how NFC is used for hotel check-ins or reservations, fear analysts.

For now, Apple doesn’t even have a device that uses NFC. But the flood of NFC related patents from Apple indicates that the iPhone 5 may come with NFC on board.

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