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Thursday, August 28, 2014, 06:57 pm PT (09:57 pm ET)

Apple's 'iPhone 6' to supposedly incorporate NFC, new secure enclave for mobile payments

Building on rumors that Apple will release an iOS-based mobile payments solution with its next-generation "iPhone 6," the well-connected John Gruber claims the new handset will feature NFC hardware and a new secure enclave to store credit card information.

Purported 'iPhone 6' and iPhone 5s logic boards compared. | Source: Nowhereelse.fr


In a missive posted to his Daring Fireball blog, Gruber says Apple's upcoming iPhone lineup will not only sport near-field communication (NFC) hardware for facilitating on-the-go payments, but will boast a specially-designed security "enclave" for storing payment credentials.

I've been working on a new joke — about NFC and a new secure enclave where you can store your credit cards, so you can pay for things at brick and mortar retail stores just by taking out your iPhone, but only if it's one of the new iPhones — but no one seems to get my sense of humor.

The post comes just hours after Wired issued a report framing NFC as "one of the hallmark features" of Apple's next iPhone.

Supposedly backing up these rumors are purported "iPhone 6" schematics and component "leaks" that suggest support for an NFC-compliant chip.

NFC has for years been rumored for inclusion in Apple's iPhone, but the technology has yet to show up in a production model. With the iPhone 5, for example, industry watchers jumped on a batch of photos revealing an unknown component attached to the phone's logic board, claiming it was clear evidence of NFC support. The part turned out to be a high-resolution ear speaker.

Apple is experimenting with NFC, as can be seen in a multitude of patents, but as SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said in a 2012 interview, the company is more concerned about user experience than shoehorning in the latest tech just because it can. At the time, Schiller said Passbook covered the bases for consumers. It should be noted, however, that the payments landscape is quickly changing.

As for the secure enclave, Apple currently employs a similar component in the iPhone 5s to store data referenced by the Touch ID fingerprint recognition system. According to a security white paper published in February, the enclave is built into Apple's A7 SoC and comes complete with its own secure boot sequence and software update mechanism. Apple says the component is responsible for "all cryptographic operations for Data Protection key management and maintains the integrity of Data Protection even if the kernel has been compromised."

For clarification, Gruber's comments about a "new joke" and "sense of humor" are allusions to a report from Re/code's John Paczkowski, who earlier Thursday cited sources as saying Apple would unveil its long-awaited "iWatch" wearable at its upcoming Sept. 9 special event.

In August, Gruber made a casual remark about Apple's "wrist wearable thing," saying it would launch in September, only to later claim the comment was made in jest. Paczkowski referenced the "joke" in his most recent report.