The US Patent Office has granted Apple a patent for NFC-enabled "on-the-go shopping lists," as reported by Engadget. The patent shows a unified interface allowing iPhone users to compare product prices and features after entering a UPC code, scanning the barcode, or tapping an NFC tag. After a product is added to Apple's shopping list, it can be located at a physical retail store using a "trace depicting a route between the user's current location and the selected retailer."

Perhaps more interesting than either NFC support or physically located products, though, is Apple's claim to a smart shopping list that reorganizes itself based on location data. The claim says:

[A] partial shopping lists is determined based on the number of stops specified by a user of the electronic device and is equal to or less than the number of stops specified by the user of the electronic device, and wherein each partial shopping list is associated with a different retailer selected from the identified retailers and comprises one or more of the product identifiers.

These location-aware shopping lists with hooks into retail data mesh well with Apple's forthcoming Passbook feature, which centralizes things like boarding passes and loyalty cards into a central location. Apple seems to be streamlining users' interactions with retailers and service providers, and while its possible that these features may never arrive in a future version of iOS, the combination of NFC, location awareness, and a rich integration with product databases could give the company an advantage over the competition.