Many had expected that the latest version of the iPhone, the 4S, would be enabled with near field communication (NFC) technology, and while that was absent from the release, what was included was Bluetooth 4.0 integration which made it the first smartphone on the market with this enhancement.
Bluetooth 4.0 is comparable to NFC in many ways, and was first integrated into the MacBook Air, allowing for communication among devices with a lower energy use than was required by previous versions of the technology. It allows the manufacturers of devices to replace their proprietary sensor technology with this new standard.
Bluetooth SIG executive director, Mike Foley, said that this latest standard of the technology “enables an entirely new class of product into the Bluetooth world.”
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It opens the doors to a virtually endless number of new possibilities. For example, devices that are enabled with geo-location could connect with buildings that have the technology integrated into them, so that visitors, for instance, can automatically receive guides and guidance.
This technology is already being used by Casio to allow their watches to communicate with a user’s smartphone device. Another possibility for Bluetooth 4.0 is mobile payments, which crosses over into the area of NFC’s potential.
Though Bluetooth 4.0 technology is backward-compatible, which means that it can function with its previous versions, this latest evolution of the technology has yet to become common among the devices currently on the market. It is expected that by the end of the year, there will be a number of additional products available that will be compatible with Bluetooth 4.0. Certainly its inclusion in this latest Apple device will encourage manufacturers to give it a greater priority.