Speculation that Apple is planning to put near-field communication (NFC) technology in this summer's iPhone 5 appears to have been scotched, with UK operators saying the company only "hopes" to put NFC in a handset in 2012 -- that would be the iPhone 6.
"The new iPhone will not have NFC, Apple told the operators it was concerned by the lack of a clear standard across the industry," one operator tells the Independent, which broke the story this morning.
Instead, they claim Apple is working on its own version of NFC, which will let iPhone users pay for goods in shops using their iTunes accounts. Rumours of an NFC iPhone first emerged in August last year, when Apple hired NFC expert Benjamin Vigier and was separately reported to have built NFC-enabled prototype iPhones.
In January, the speculation reared its head again, after US consultancy Envisioneering Group said it had talked to engineers working on the project. That could still be true, of course, it's just that the project may be longer-term than we thought.
Apple might not be planning an NFC iPhone this year -- although the possibility that it's using loose-lipped operators as a way to throw rivals off the scent shouldn't be discounted -- but other companies are.
Google put NFC inside its Nexus S collaboration with Samsung and made it a feature of Android 2.3 Gingerbread software for other handset makers to follow suit, while RIM has made it a feature across its upcoming range of BlackBerry handsets, according to leaked roadmaps.
NFC may not be part of the iPhone 5, but there are plenty of other rumours doing the rounds about Apple's next handset. We've seen alleged engineering drawings showing a nearly edge-to-edge screen; hints in the iOS 4.3 code that the iPhone 5 will have the same A5 processor as the iPad 2; talk of an aluminium rear casing rather than glass; and even one rumour about a slide-out keyboard.
All will be revealed (almost certainly) at Apple's WWDC conference in June.