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Despite Google going forward, reports say no NFC on iPhone 5

by Phil Hornshaw

Google (GOOG) is gearing up to test its “near field communication” technology for its Android mobile operating system in several cities, according to reports -- and meanwhile, rumor has it that Apple (AAPL) won’t include the technology in the iPhone 5.

Of course, these are both rumors. The first comes from a Bloomberg report that states that Google is planning testing of the technology in New York and San Francisco sometime in the next four months. In order to do so, Google will be paying to install NFC technology at various stores and retailers in the cities, according to anonymous sources in the report.

Near field communications are “always on” signals sent by smart phones to nearby receivers, allowing the phones to exchange information with the receiver to perform certain tasks. Google has been pushing the technology as a means of paying for merchandise and delivering advertisers to users who want it. Imagine stepping up to a cash register and the cashier ringing-up the items you want to buy, and then your smartphone completes the transaction with your credit card information without you even having to swipe a card. The tech involved is NFC, and Google believes it to be the future of commerce. At least, that’s what Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, last month.

And it’s not just Google. According to a story from GigaOM, Verifone (PAY), a maker of credit card payment terminals (you’ve probably seen the blue terminals that you can tap with certain cards to make transactions), is working on installing NFC receivers on all future new in-store payment terminals.

The problem with NFC receivers right now is that they cost about $200 to install into existing payment terminals in merchant locations. Verifone is putting them in all its new terminals, which will help in keeping the cost down and standardizing the NFC installation so that the company doesn’t have to deal with it in its existing machines. Suddenly, NFC technology could be in many stores all over the country, opening up the technology and giving consumers a lot of possible use out of the new smartphone capability.

But while Google and Verifone seem to think there’s something to this NFC business, Apple is taking a more cautious approach.

Rumor has it, the iPhone 5, which is believed to be hitting the streets come June and previously had been rumored to be NFC-capable, is actually not going to include the technology. That’s the news according to a PC World report and information from the UK’s The Independent, which cites unnamed wireless carriers who have said the iPhone 5 won’t include NFC capabilities.

According to the report, Apple is hesitant because there's not a clear industry standard for NFC implementation. While we'd heard earlier that the iPhone 5 would include NFC technology, The Independent claims it'll actually be another year down the line, with the rollout of the iPhone 6, before NFC makes it into iPhones.

But with Google rolling out NFC in its Android phones and Verifone spreading the technology to merchants across the country, one wonders if iPhone owners will miss the capability in six or eight months. Though, it's a lot more likely that by the time NFC is ready to go in the Android camp, the iPhone 6 will be an imminent release and Apple will be in step with the competition and the cutting edge.