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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

For developers and the NFC market as a whole, the significance of this announcement is twofold, says Craig Tadlock, GoToTags' CEO. It not only expands the capacity for NFC-based apps (since most phones will now work with it), but it also signals Apple's plans to build more NFC functionality into its own apps and products. The new Apple Card, for instance, will include an NFC tag to provision it. The company also demonstrated NFC stickers for downloading music at WWDC. Additionally, Apple's HomeKit home-intelligence system and GymKit fitness-tracking solution both support NFC, as will audio app HomePod. "Expect to see much more going forward," Tadlock says.

Until recently, the awareness and adoption of NFC—which transmits at 13.56 MHz and complies with the ISO 14443 and 15693 standards—have been somewhat limited. That, in part, is due to the fact that access to NFC solutions were not available to iOS device users. That was a sticking point, Tadlock says, adding, "People didn't know about it." Now, he predicts, with Apple promoting its phone as a way to interact with physical things, awareness will grow quickly. "Once someone experiences this one or two times, they get it, and it eventually becomes intuitive."

Koichi Tagawa
Growth may be faster in some vertical markets than in others. Tagawa predicts the most significant growth opportunities for NFC will be in the retail and payment sectors, as well as identity for access control, transport for rail or other transit ticketing, and automotive markets such as NFC-based entry. While the NFC technology use cases in each of these markets are particularly strong, he notes, the Internet of Things (IoT) is another potentially strong NFC growth area, "as there is a real need for NFC technology to connect, commission and control the predicted 36 billion IoT devices in use on the planet by next year."

In the meantime, products like Apple Pay remain strong. Two billion NFC-enabled devices are already in use globally—one for every four people worldwide—and a good percentage of those are Apple products, Tagawa says. "Expanding NFC capabilities means consumers will be the big winners," he states. "We'll see more and more new, useful applications that will increase consumers' interest and comfort with contactless experiences." He adds, "iOS 13 will only help."


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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