Apple Grab & Go patent details how the iPhone could use NFC

Hot on the heels of the news that Apple has an RFID-enabled iPhone prototype, a new patent application provides details of how the company sees NFC being used to make it easy for customers to transfer files between devices such as the Mac, iPhone and Apple TV.

APPLE: Bringing NFC to market?
APPLE: Bringing NFC to market?

A new Apple patent application describes a system for simplifying the task of syncing devices and choosing which files to share between them and describes in detail a role for near field communication in enabling devices to be synchronised easily. The publication of the patent last week follows the news that Apple is believed to be prototyping an RFID-enabled iPhone.

Called “System and method for simplified data transfer”, the patent application abstract describes it as follows:

“Systems and methods of performing a simplified data transfer are provided. For example, a simplified data transfer system may include two or more devices configured to perform a simplified data transfer. The first device may be configured to save and transfer data associated with applications open on the first device. When the second device initiates communication, the first device may automatically send the open application data to the second device.”

According to Apple Insider:

In the application, Apple said that current sync methods are needlessly complex.

“Though a user may have access to two similarly capable electronic devices, sharing data between the two devices may involve a number of steps, each of which may vary in difficulty,” the application reads. “The process of transferring data between the devices may include many user decisions, such as which data to save, where the data is saved, which formats each device may be capable of processing, how to interconnect the devices for a most effective data transfer, etc. Such complexity may increase the difficulty or time spent transferring data between two electronic devices.

The patent application includes references to a number of devices that could be used in sync, including a Mac, iPhone, Apple TV, Apple Remote, and a video game controller that resembles that of a Playstation. The described system could share Safari bookmarks, iTunes content, Time Machine backups, Keynote presentations, or even video game file saves.

Syncing of files could take place between a number of hardware types as well, in a wireless method between an iPhone and an iMac, or between two iPhones. The massive, detailed, 84-page application presents a number of potential sync combinations between two and three devices.

Patently Apple includes a detailed description of the patent application along with diagrams showing in detail how NFC would be used alongside other communications technologies.

APPLE SOURCE: For anyone who thinks Apple is ignoring NFC, this diagram from a patent application clearly indicates otherwise (click to enlarge)
APPLE SOURCE: For anyone who thinks Apple is ignoring NFC, this diagram from a patent application clearly indicates otherwise (click to enlarge)

Figure 2 in the patent application shows the Grab & Go service being delivered on an iPhone via a dedicated icon, marked as number 40 on the diagram above. “The selection of icon 40 will allow the iPhone to ‘grab’ data from open applications from another electronic device so the user can ‘go’ with this data,” Patently Apple explains.

The patent refers in many places to initiating transfers over an NFC interface, and also to building ‘wake on NFC’ capability into devices so that they come out of a standby state when they receive an NFC signal.

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2 comments on this article

  1. Patent applications are great… granted patents are better.

    Look at this patent here and see if claims 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and a bunch more aren't already claiming Apple's NFC reader interface… nice idea… 11 years old. 🙂

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