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Don’t expect a ton of third-party apps to take advantage of the new NFC chip included in the iPhone 6, at least at the beginning. Apple has confirmed to Cult of Mac and The Verge that NFC capabilities are restricted to Apple Pay — which means you might not be be automating your life with NFC tags or paying for your subway ride with your iPhone anytime soon.
In fact, [company]Apple[/company] is playing down NFC as a feature in its newest iPhones, preferring to emphasize Apple Pay, its new payment solution that uses NFC. If you take a look at Apple’s specs page for the iPhone 6, NFC is relegated to the “cellular and wireless” section, even below the letter jumbles that represent which wireless networks the iPhone works on. It’s safe to say you won’t be seeing an iPhone ad that touts the NFC wireless standard as a feature.
But that’s not to say that NFC will be locked down forever. If Apple were to open up the ability to tinker with the chip to third-party developers, there could be some interesting applications that pop up for the new hardware. People tinkering with NFC-equipped Android devices have come up with some very cool features — especially with automation app Tasker — and it would be silly to exclude NFC from one of Apple’s biggest strengths: Its large and creative developer community.
I suspect third-party apps for the NFC chip are merely a matter of time. Just look at how Apple handled Touch ID, which debuted last year on the iPhone 5S. Touch ID was originally restricted to unlocking the phone and other Apple functions. But with iOS 8, which will be pushed to users this Wednesday, Apple has opened up Touch ID to third-party developers, and apps like Paypal and 1Password will be taking advantage of the fingerprint scanner. So if you’re hoping for NFC-enabled apps on the iPhone 6, maybe you just need to wait for next year.