Apple’s Phil Schiller talks wireless charging, NFC, and the new dock connector

by: ŠtefanSeptember 14, 2012

Apple’s new iPhone comes with a bevy of much needed improvements, but there are certain things it doesn’t do. There’s no near field communication inside, there’s no wireless charging, and the phone features a brand spanking new dock connector that’s neither compatible with the old dock connector or compatible with the ubiquitous USB standard that practically every device on the market uses. Ina Fried from AllThingsD was at Apple’s event on Wednesday and she had a chance to talk to Phil Schiller, the company’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, about what the iPhone lacks.

Starting with NFC, Phil says it’s a technology looking for a problem to solve. Is he right? The one use case we keep on hoping NFC will bring us, wireless payments, has yet to happen. And if you think about it, is there really a problem with swiping a credit card? Sure, tapping your phone on a point of sale system sounds cool, but is it that much faster than plastic?

Then there’s wireless charging. Phil brings up a good point. Wireless chargers still need to be plugged in, thus complicating things. With cables you plug your phone into your laptop, your wall, and there are even some planes now that have USB ports. Looking at Nokia’s Lumia 920, sure it has wireless charging, but at what cost? The device weighs 185 grams and is nearly 11 mm thick. Is it worth it?

And finally, about that new dock, Phil says Apple is going to use it “for many years to come”. We believe him. The old dock connector went unchanged for nearly a decade. In that amount of time Nokia went from a proprietary 2 mm port to miniUSB and then finally microUSB. It does kind of stink that Apple didn’t decide to go with USB, but hey, we’re Android fans, so who cares?

Companies choose to focus on different things in order to sell their products. Google pushes how seamless everything is thanks to the cloud, Microsoft pushes their Office suite down everyone’s throats, Samsung likes to show off what their engineers can do, and Apple … let’s not go there, otherwise we’re going to start a massive flamewar.

[poll id=”148″]

  • Cenatory30
  • Yamsen

    As much as I hate to say that he’s right he has some good points. NFC currently is not a must have. Sure it’s nice to have but the general population have yet seen any real use for it. It’ll only get popular if it’s backed up the companies and implemented everywhere only then Apple will jump on the bandwagon and say they added a “revolutionary” feature on their phones. Apple is a company that doesn’t like to take chances that a feature that they haven’t thought of flops. They’ll wait until they see that it is popular then charge their clients a premium for that feature. So it really is up to the consumers to make that technology a hit or miss, or technology in general for that matter.

  • Nic Gillespie

    Like most your polls they will never get peoples true opinion, why not let use answer NFC is but not so much wireless charging or the other way around.

    personally I love android beam and the ablity to walk into my office and change all my phones settings to what Iike when I get in, then change them again as I am leaving. no NFC is a deal breaker for me. But wireless charging I couldn’t care less about. My phone gets charged when I am debugging I would love to see wireless debugging in their sdk that would rock.

    • Yamsen

      The only wireless charging I want to see is proximity charging. I couldn’t care less about wireless charging on a pad, that still means that you’re stuck leaving the phone there. It’s no different from charging from a dock. When they get to the point of charging when you walk into a room or not even, lets say sit down at your desk, only then will that technology be useful.

  • “but is it that much faster than plastic?”

    Well, in
    Brazil it is, at least if NFC works as advertised. The salesperson has
    to type in the price, you have to get your card out of your wallet, put
    it in the machine, wait for it to read the data, type in your password,
    wait for the purchase to process, wait for the guy to take his receipt
    and then your receipt. It’s reasonable to say paying with NFC would be
    much faster.

    But the thing that worries me most is this “it’s a
    technology looking for a problem to solve”. So can’t we do things simply
    because they’re cool? It’s good to have ways to interact with other
    devices (and even things, like with Sammy’s smart tags) in this
    practical way. Even transferring links and stuff. Payment is good, but
    the technology in itself is awesome.

  • Wapu

    his arguments are begging the question in order to support their own shortcommings. Of course they will tell you you don’t need them. They didn’t provide them which obviously means you don’t want or need it.

    So, with that out of the way, lets look at the technology…
    1) NFC. Is neither more or less secure than a credit card (in light of the way we hand over credit cards and they dissappear from our site.). However, the benefit they provide is that with the right software, you can have a digital wallet. Imagine multiple digital credit/debit cards in your phone making your wallet thinner. Next, if you have membership cards (bookstores, starbucks, etc). There is no reason these companies cannot jump on board and allow you to carry even less crap in your wallet/purse.

    2) Wireless charging. Really gonna stick w/ the ‘you gotta plug it in anyway’ excuse. How about a charge pad that can charge multiple items at once. Ubiquitous in that you don’t need multiple types of connections (since there are still proprietary connectors out there). now imagine having a pad a work or places you frequent. Or even commercially available charging kiosks (see them all over asia, don’t know why the states hasn’t picked up on this).

    As stated, his response was more of an excuse begging you to pardon their lack of imagination.

  • I use NFC daily and not for mobile payments. I bought NFC stickers online for a buck a piece, there is an app in the Play Store called NFC tag launcher, which allows you to program NFC stickers to do anything you want. Now when i get in my car i simple tap my phone to the dash and Wifi turns off, Bluetooth on, Brightness set to max, volume at 7, and boom i’m listening to music trough my Bluetooth car stereo. When i leave i tap it again and setting revert automatically.

  • Bobbler

    They diss what they didnt implement today and they will declare it a magical thing in a years time with iPhone 6. Same old rubbish.

  • nfc tags and wireless payments.. something i use daily… so for not happening yet, i must be living in the future.. and i like it!