Apple has won a new US patent for a mobile shopping app, says Patently Apple
. The concept
is similar to a number of titles already on the App Store which let users scan products using an iPhone's camera, and subsequently check online for more details or better prices. Apple's app would also let users build shopping lists, or perform some related tasks.
The patent may be more interesting in light of rumors that Apple is planning to add NFC
(near-field communications) to the next iPhone. If so, that would likely imply some form of shopping support. The patent app's scanning component could be used to read RF tags, or users might simply be able to use an iPhone as an e-wallet, with any transactions being processed through a person's iTunes account. Diagrams attached to the patent in fact explicitly refer to NFC, though it should be noted that many ideas in Apple patents never reach production, and the device that turned out to be the iPhone 4S was also rumored as getting NFC.