A whole new look on a whole new level is what Apple introduces with the release of iOS 13. Announced at the WWDC Conference in June, and unveiled with the new iPhone 11 series on the 10th of September, it’s finally released on the 19th of September. So NFC, the technology that powers Apple Pay and other smart features for iOS apps, is getting a big upgrade. iPhone apps will now be able to do more than just read NFC tags, they’ll also be able to write directly to tags and use multiple native protocols to interact with tags.
This goes hand in hand with Apple’s announced plans to create great new user experiences using NFC in their own product solutions. For example, NFC stickers used by retailers and service providers to trigger Apple Pay payments or to make it easier for their customers to sign up for loyalty programs—all without having an app installed, as shown at the Transact Conference in April. Or consumers can easily activate the new Apple Pay card by tapping their iPhone on the NFC tag embedded in the payment card’s outer box.
The hundreds of millions of iPhone users worldwide can benefit from the convenient ‘tap to interact’ functionality, and this will in turn impact many new NFC applications in the retail, medical, government, transit and security industries.
With this upgrade to Apple’s Core NFC framework, the iPhone’s NFC capabilities are getting much more powerful. Models that run on iOS 13, from the iPhone 7 up to the brand new iPhone 11 can now support tag reading and writing across multiple protocols, including not only NDEF-formatted tags (for end-user focused content), but also MIFARE®, ISO/IEC 7816 combined with ISO/IEC 14443 , ISO/IEC 15693 and FeliCa™. For all practical purposes, this is the full range of NFC protocols deployed for NFC tags and smart cards today. That means NFC capabilities on iOS 13 will work in more places with more types of tags and cards than before, thereby opening up a range of contactless applications for iPhone users.
Overall, this is great news for the NFC and Connected Things markets. According to ABI Research, the number of connected objects is expected to reach a record 40 billion by 2022, and physical things are becoming digital engagement points to act as a bridge between the digital and physical worlds.
Adding iOS 13 users to the total smartphone universe means that almost all of the two billion people worldwide who own a smartphone now also have an NFC reader in their hands that can interact with the NFC tags and smart cards around them, enjoying many of the smart home, smart business and smart city applications that are becoming a reality today.
Here is what Apple is adding to iOS 13 for NFC in its phones:
*ISO/IEC 7816 is an international standard for smart cards, used e.g. in passports and ID documents.
** 7816 Tag APIs are defined on top of ISO/IEC 14443. ISO/IEC 14443 is an international standard for proximity tags and cards, used for identification and communication transmission protocols. ISO/IEC 15693 is an international standard for vicinity tags, used e.g. for products traced in the supply chain and in ski passes. MIFARE® is an NXP IC product family based on the open ISO 14443 standard, used in contactless smart cards for public transport, access control, loyalty and micropayment services. FeliCa™ is a contactless smart card system from Sony in Japan.
As the identification industry’s number-one supplier of semiconductor technology, we’ve assembled a best-in-class portfolio of NFC tag and card ICs. Our products deliver standout performance for passive, connected and semi-passive sensing solutions, at every level of security, so it’s easy to find the right fit for any application. Every day, in every part of the world, billions of people rely on NXP technologies to enable smart, secure interactions and transactions. To make application development fast and easy, and facilitate system integration, we also offer a range of purpose-built software tools.
Interested in finding out more about new iOS 13 NFC capabilities and how these can be best leveraged by NXP’s advanced NFC product solutions? Please stay tuned—the next blog in our iOS 13 & NFC series will be coming out soon.
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