Report: iPhone 5 NFC Could Make Mac Settings Portable

Apple is working on bringing Near Field Communication (NC) technology to the iPhone 5, and will use it to allow Mac users to tote around their Mac’s Home directory, according to an unnamed source at Cult of Mac. The system will allegedly allow users to take their desktop, settings, and eventually even user data and files with them to any NFC-equipped Mac.

“The Mac authenticates with the iPhone, which contains a lot of the information the computer needs, such as bookmarks, passwords and other data,” the site’s source said. “The system would essentially turn any Apple computer into your own — like you’re actually working on your own computer. Same settings, look, bookmarks, preferences. It would all be invisible. Your iPhone would be all you needed to unlock your Mac.”

NFC is a term used to refer to short range wireless communications. It’s a burgeoning field, and one that is being experimented with in mobile devices in Asia. Here in the U.S., people may be familiar with a branch known as RFID, which places radio transmitters in and on merchandise so that it can be detected and tracked (used for inventory tracking and anti-theft measures).

It has been speculated that Apple has been working on adding NFC technology to iPhones since the company began filing NFC-related patents and hiring NFC experts such as Benjamin Vigier to head up mobile commerce at Apple.

The thinking heretofore is that the company would use this feature to turn iPhone into a mobile wallet, allowing purchases to be made by waving your iPhone at the appropriate device. The Cult of Mac’s source said that Apple’s plans are bigger, and that the company wants to use the technology to make your desktop as portable as your mobile phone.

The source also suggested that a rollout of these features may come over time, starting with initial access to one’s Address Book and bookmarks, with the end-goal of being able to carry around software licenses and other types of data to make the experience a truly seamless one for users.

The question, of course, is how Apple will do this. The pieces are starting to show themselves, however, from the cloud computing aspects hinted at for Mac OS X 10.7 to the enormous data center Apple is building in North Carolina.

“I don’t know if this information will be stored on the cloud or not, but I do know that smaller bits such as preference files, system settings, documents, keychain passwords, and other items would be stored on the iPhone for fast retrieval,” the source told Cult of Mac.

The site did not specify how the source came by this information, nor did it imply that the source works at Apple. Accordingly, take the information with a grain of salt.