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Companies Anticipate NFC Scale-Up With Apple's iOS 13 Release

Apple's latest operating system will provide greater Near Field Communication functionality for developers; the firm is also promoting multiple products of its own using the technology, prompting NFC companies to prepare for market growth.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 21, 2019

As Apple is releasing its iOS 13 operating system for iPhones and iPads with Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality, companies in the NFC sector are seeing new opportunities. The consumer electronics and computer software company released its plans for NFC in iOS 13 at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). The iPhone 7 and newer models came with NFC reading functionality, but they were limited to Apple Pay or other apps that had to be installed on the phone.

The features being released on the iOS 13 are already available on Android-based phones. At the conference, Apple reported that iOS 13 will enable users to write data to NFC tags from an iPhone for the first time. But the functionality will go considerably further than that, the firm indicated, as app developers and Apple create new apps and solutions. The company plans to release multiple new systems that will utilize the NFC functionality.

Apple's iOS 13
"Any time a company with a market share and mindshare like Apple's expands their NFC functionality, it is significant for other industry players and consumers," says Koichi Tagawa, the chairman of the NFC Forum. Tagawa is also the general manager of global standards and industry relations at the C&I Center in Dai Nippon Printing.

Apple—which is a member of the NFC Forum, sits on its board of directors and co-chairs the NFC Forum's IoT Special Interest Group—did not respond to a request for comment about this announcement. Previously, NFC solutions for transportation ticketing, mapping or smart-city deployments did not operate with Apple products unless an iOS app was offered and downloaded on the phone. The new iOS 13 products, however, will be able to read an NFC tag without the need for an app, as well as launch a shortcut with an NFC tag and accomplish tasks such as reading NFC tags on passports.

With the added functionality in iOS device, Tagawa explains, NFC solutions can be more widely used, and technology companies can thus be expected to create new NFC-enabled solutions. "New features and options for NFC technology inspire developers to innovate," he states, "knowing that their target market is continually expanding with the large number of iPhones in the market." Already, Tagawa notes, the proliferation of NFC technologies—in handsets, wearables and vehicles, for example—"signals that NFC is becoming a 'now' technology." Apple's announcement brings more NFC-based convenience to millions of iPhone users worldwide, he says, which could further accelerate the momentum behind NFC.


Umberto Arreghini 2019-09-26 03:55:19 PM
Sorry but the content of this article is not correct: iOS 13 devices will NOT be able to read NFC tags without the need for an app.
Claire Swedberg 2019-10-03 11:55:54 AM
Thanks for your comment, Umberto. In fact I'm told by my sources that Apple has enabled background tag reading for NDEF-formatted NFC tags, which amount to most of the popular consumer-facing tags. However, you have a point that in the case of passports, most use a different NFC encoding format, as well as special NFC chips, that cannot be natively read by iOS 13 devices. The new Core NFC SDK released with iOS 13 does allow developers to access the full suite of NFC reading and writing capabilities beyond NDEF, and those in fact, would require a third-party app.

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