Apple’s AirDrop Avoids NFC…Again

by Matt Klassen on June 13, 2013

For years now Near Field Communication evangelists have been trying to get people to share things by waving or bumping their phones together, touting the short distance data transfer solution as the revolutionary future of mobile sharing technology. But the reality is NFC has struggled with mass adoption, stagnating into, as TechCrunch writer Natasha Lomas insightfully puts it, “an ugly wasteland of non-use.”

So while some decry Apple’s latest iOS 7 upgrade for once again failing to include NFC, perhaps Apple is right to avoid this struggling quagmire altogether, with Apple users better served by the company’s own in-house sharing service AirDrop, which combines the best of NFC without the need to “wander around the room bumping your phone.”

That said, Apple’s jabs at Android NFC-enabled phones may be nothing more than a smokescreen, a slight-of-hand designed to get people on board with Apple’s new technology while giving the Cupertino company time to develop its own NFC solution. Then, when it does finally embrace NFC, this mockery will be all but forgotten, buried under heaps of…praise.

Granted NFC has seen adoption in some countries as a mobile payment technology, something both vendors and consumers are still struggling with here, but as a data sharing platform it’s been an embarrassing failure. In fact, for many the acronym NFC has taken on a new meaning, “Nobody F****** Cares.”

Simply up, while Samsung continues to tout the many uses of NFC by showing star crossed lovers separated by some airport security Plexiglas still able to share that moment with each other, the problem has always been the inherent proximity restraints, something Apple thinks it has solved.

With AirDrop Apple has created its own peer-to-peer sharing system, but it utilizing Wi-Fi to allow users to share content, meaning that while some proximity is necessary—up to 100 meters—it involves none of the social awkwardness of waving or bumping your phone into your neighbours.

Of course AirDrop is not without its own drawbacks, the most significant of which is that both parties need to have iOS 7 to initiate the sharing platform, but then again to use NFC both parties need to have NFC-enabled smartphones.

But despite the fact that Apple seems to be trying to create a new market standard–much as it did with its support of HTML5 over Flash—and the fact that Apple execs went out of their way to mock Android NFC-enabled devices, there are some who consider its AirDrop sharing medium as nothing but a stopgap measure, designed to satiate the masses until Apple can make NFC work the way it wants.

“AirDrop gives current iOS users a way to share, especially if they will not update to the new hardware when it gets NFC,” Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, explains. “So in a way, AirDrop helps keep older hardware relevant once NFC is integrated in the devices.”

In fact, over the years I’ve noticed that Apple, like many companies, tends to have a very selective memory, meaning when the company does eventually adopt NFC it will have completely forgotten all the mockery, as it’ll be buried under mounds of overly effusive praise.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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