New patent shows how Apple could use the iPhone’s U1 chip to enhance Apple Pay


A new patent granted to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office today could bring another use to the U1 chip found in the iPhone. With the ultra-wideband technology, Apple Pay, based on your location, could know what card to select when the you’re in a store, for example.

As spotted by AppleInsider, “the patent suggests that a device like an iPhone could automatically present the correct credential or payment type for a nearby terminal.”

The patent titled “Location-based credential selection for wireless transactions” could finally bring another usage for the U1 chip. As of now, the ultra-wideband technology is available on some iPhones, Apple Watch Series 6, and HomePod mini but doesn’t do much. It’s possible to transfer files faster using AirDrop, unlocking some cars with the CarKey API, and transfer a song seamlessly from the iPhone to the HomePod mini.

The U1 chip is long-rumored to be a key part of the yet-to-be-announced AirTags, a tracker for bags, keys, and anything you want to know the location any time. AirTags could come soon, but we still don’t know for sure.

The patent describes how Apple Pay could benefit from the U1 chip:

“A method for selecting a credential from a plurality of credentials stored on an electronic device, the method comprising: storing a map module that includes a location of a terminal, wherein the terminal comprises a fast passage gate, and wherein the map module indicates one or more eligible credentials of the plurality of credentials, wherein the one or more eligible credentials are compatible with the fast passage gate.”

Apple also gives some background and other capabilities for this patent:

“Electronic devices can include wireless capabilities to perform a variety of tasks such as wirelessly unlocking/locking a computer (or other device), wirelessly interacting with a television or other media device, and/or wirelessly conducting transactions. With respect to transactions, the wirelessly-enabled electronic device can store credentials corresponding to, for example, transit passes, identification, and credit/debit cards compatible with different payment types. For example, using a wireless communication protocol such as a near field communication (NFC) protocol, the electronic device can conduct a transaction with a nearby reader terminal using a stored credential that is compatible with the terminal. ”

For now, we’ll have to wait to see when Apple could introduce this technology combining Apple Pay and the U1 chip.

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