iOS 12 NFC updates

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iOS 12 NFC : Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

UPDATE 12th September 2018 :

Apple adds iPhone Background NFC Tag Reading in Core NFC. 

Latest on the iPhone NFC updates

The next version of Apple’s mobile phone software, iOS 12 is due to be released next month. So what can we expect in terms of NFC updates and what difference will it make.

iOS 12 release date

It has become normal for Apple to announce the next version of their iOS at the WWDC. This year, the keynote speech is expected on the 4th June.

It would be a major surprise if Apple didn’t add a number of updates to keep developers excited. But also, it’s an opportunity for Apple to correct smaller problems with previous version and iron out the bugs.

While the 4th June is the announcement date, the actual launch of iOS 12 is likely to be later in the year, probably around September.

Rumoured updates

As usual, there’s a lot more heat than light when it comes to the latest changes. However, most of the smart money is on improvements in performance, facetime, parental controls and possible cross-platform iOS and Mac support.

It’s also likely to be the launch of some new animoji and possible animoji facetime integration.

25th May : Apple opens NFC

According to The Information, Apple may open up access to the NFC chip. This is a major change and we’ve written the latest news on this : iPhone NFC to open in iOS12

4th May : iOS 12 NFC changes

The current rumours regarding changes or updates to NFC are thin on the ground. So let’s consider what we’d like to see.

Currently, iOS 11 supports the scanning of NFC tags with an App. When we say scanning, we mean the ability to read the NDEF portion of the tag. That’s the main data area providing it’s been encoded to NFC Forum spec. In short, this means that if a web address link has been encoded correctly onto the tag by someone else, an iPhone with an appropriate App can read it.

There’s two main changes that NFC.Today want to see.

Native NFC tag reading

By native, we mean that there’s no need to download an App. An iPhone user can see an NFC tag, scan it, and it will action. This is the current status on Android and it provides a truly frictionless experience.

Will it happen ? Apple enabled native QR code scanning in the last release so this is a logical step forward. The ability to get out the iPhone, tap and go would be a major boost for NFC and open the doors for large scale marketing, identification and authentication projects.

Is it important ? Yes. It’s the final hurdle in complete smart phone NFC adoption and it will make a significant difference across the industry.

NFC tag writing

Regardless whether the iPhone has an App or not at the moment, it cannot write to an NFC tag. The tags need to be pre-encoded before they can be read. Allowing the iPhone to write to an NFC tag will allow developers to do more interesting things but also allow users to create their own tags.

Will it happen ? It’s not likely. The ability to write to the tags is almost certainly just a software issue not a hardware one. There’s not reason why the phones cannot write so allowing it to happen wouldn’t take much.

Is it important ? Not at all. Most developers have access to an Android phone for testing so it doesn’t change much there. Any large scale rollout will have the tags pre-encoded so no change there either. And the number of Apps that would benefit or require the ability to write rather than read is very small. In most cases, the tag is an identifier, not a data store so there’s little benefit in being able to write as well as read.