In November of last year, Cult of Mac reported that the iPhone 5 would gain a near-field communications chip, which would enable an ambitious remote computing scheme that would effectively allow you to take your desktop Mac’s settings and files “on the road” with you, syncing it with another Mac just by waving your iPhone in front of the screen.
Now Apple has been awarded a software patent for a new OS X feature that could be an integral part of their future remote computing plans: it describes a way for users to secure vital files in a virtual ‘safe deposit box’ which would then encrypt them and possibly even upload them to the cloud.
The patent was discovered by the USPTO spelunkers over at Patently Apple. It describes a process in which users would simply drag a file to a safe deposit icon which would both secure the file and possibly upload the file to the cloud, which could then be accessed from any computer just by a user verifying his identity.
NFC is not specifically mentioned in the patent, but given the storage capacity of the average iOS device compared to the average Mac, we see this as a possible execution of Apple’s remote computing plans. A simple folder in which the most critical of a user’s files are dropped could not only be synced in the cloud, but could also be sucked down via NFC, and could also be used to sync settings and certain programs and their libraries between computers.
Patently Apple, on their part, see this as a piece of another puzzle: Apple’s aspirations to bring iTunes to the cloud. They suggest that the Safe Deposit Box could be used by Apple to secure iTunes libraries, uploading users’ music to their North Carolina data supercenter.
At the very least, NFC or not, iTunes in the cloud or not… this seems like a direct jab at Dropbox‘s core business. We can’t wait to see if this rolls out in OS X Lion, due later this summer.