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Developer Access to iPhone's NFC Chip Coming in iOS 11

Developers coding for iOS 11 will be able to create apps that can read NFC tags, opening the door for the wireless exchange of information between an iPhone and various connected devices in a user's environment.

The NFC chip in the iPhone is currently only used to handle contactless Apple Pay transactions and Passbook check-ins, but a new framework detailed in a developer resource published shortly after Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday lays the foundation for multiple use cases by third-party apps.


Called "Core NFC", the framework will allow apps to read Near Field Communication tags that are compatible with the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF), which is supported by iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus handsets. The developer support document overview describes the possibilities afforded by the new framework like so:
"Your app can read tags to give users more information about their physical environment and the real-world objects in it. For example, your app might give users information about products they find in a store or exhibits they visit in a museum."
Apple has limited third-party access to NFC hardware since it first appeared in the iPhone 6, and has closely guarded the technology, as evidenced in the company's ongoing spat with Australian banks eager to use Apple's Wallet NFC implementation in their own apps.

However, the possibilities for NFC outside of banking look set to expand with Apple's next-generation mobile operating systems. Indeed, Apple also demonstrated a new use case for NFC in Watch OS 4, which will allow the Apple Watch to interface with gym equipment and transfer fitness data like heart rate and calorie burn between devices in real time.

How privacy concerns surrounding NFC interfacing will be overcome remains to be seen, but it should be interesting to see the various use cases developers can come up with once iOS 11 launches in the fall.

(Via Engadget.)

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: NFC, WWDC 2017


Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago
Finally!!! Better late than never!

Now we can put that NFC to other uses.
Rating: 13 Votes
18 months ago
Does this mean employers will be able to replace those darn NFC access card?

Oh and my public transit pass too!? That would be amazing I always forget them!



If so, the only thing left in my wallet will be my drivers license, I wonder how Apple will solve this one out!

Rating: 8 Votes
18 months ago
I haven't posted on MacRumors forums in a while but I just had to log in and post on this one.

What a ridiculous idea to not expand NFC support for older iPhone models (6 and up). There is absolutely no technical reason not to. All models could easily support NDEF. Additionally, the user base for NFC will now be very low and will be less attractive to developers.

This is just one of those arbitrary decisions Apple makes to make newer devices more attractive for no reason, just like Night Shift being 64-bit only. No technical reason behind it.

EDIT: 6 and up, not 5s and up
Rating: 4 Votes
18 months ago

Cue the outcry from iPhone 6 and 6s users

Is there a reason why this wouldn't work for the 6 and 6S?
Rating: 3 Votes
18 months ago

No reason it shouldn't work with the 6s.


From the story - indeed looks like iPhone 7 and onwards... :-(
"Called "Core NFC", the framework will allow apps to read Near Field Communication tags that are compatible with the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF), which is supported by iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus handsets. The developer support document overview describes the possibilities afforded by the new framework like so:"
Rating: 3 Votes
18 months ago
Cue the outcry from iPhone 6 and 6s users
Rating: 2 Votes
18 months ago
Interesting previous blog prediction of this from a large tag provider:

https://gototags.com/blog/apple-iphone-8-support-nfc-tags/

"These aren’t small projects either; GoToTags has many customers whose projects have deployed 100k+ NFC tags and a handful that have deployed 1M+. These projects are also becoming more consumer focused. Recently Nintendo released amiibo, which has NFC enabled physical characters, and we sold out of our stock of the NTAG215 chip type within hours (don’t worry, more on the way). All of this in a market where nobody knows that NFC is even happening.

"What will change Apple’s mind? In many of these projects, because the iPhone does not support NFC tags, the business is either forced to choose Android as their device platform, or live in a world where their iPhone app is crippled compared to its Android counterpart.

"The NFC functionality is too important for these products. Thus, the iPhone loses its prestige and looks inferior to its Android competitors. That is a big deal and as soon as Apple believes this it will reassess its stance on NFC.

"Remember that originally Steve Jobs didn’t want to allow apps on the iPhone, yet they caved in due to market pressure from companies that wanted to offer products to consumers via mobile devices. Now the App Store is a massive revenue generator for Apple and an integral part of the mobile experience. NFC is the next step in the technology arms race. Do you think Apple is going to sit back and ignore Nintendo and others’ success?"
Rating: 2 Votes
18 months ago
One step closer to using my Apple Watch to lock my front door, unlock and start my car, pay for items at Walgreens, then return home.

If you could just get a cellular-enabled watch and a state-sponsored Driver's License app (with watch support), the only things you would need to carry with you would be your watch and an Air Pod!
Rating: 2 Votes
18 months ago
Would love this for hotel rooms! Recently stayed at a Hilton and they had Digital Key, but it required unlocking my phone and loading up the app. Unlock process was long too. However, putting my phone up to the lock activated ApplePay so as they already support NFC, hopefully a "touch phone to door to unlock" can become a reality here!
Rating: 2 Votes
18 months ago

Correction: You don't care.

You don't speak for everyone.

Oh, I care. I get paid to care. I make firmware for RFID devices and a companion android app that uses NFC to communicate with them. I know NFC under the hood, it's old and clunky stuf, salvaged from ancient RFID standards. NFC is useful when physical proximity is a requirement, like opening a door or turnstile. Or when phones want to talk to legacy infrastructure like payments where the tech has to be simple enough to fit inside a credit card. Plastic cards to pay for stuff is not the future, it's the past. When we no longer use plastic cards to pay for stuff NFC has no business being on the phone.
Rating: 2 Votes

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