Apple & NFC
Apple has now created more opportunities for NFC. It is now possible to program NFC tags with an iPhone. Check our partner’s app, NFC Tools by Wakdev, in the app store.

Apple NFC Feature

The Apple NFC feature is becoming more useful.

What is now possible with the Apple NFC feature being more useful?

The new iPhone 10 or X models now supports background reading of NFC tags. This means that you no longer need an app to read one. The new models are now as intuitive as Android phones that have the NFC feature. This new ability is currently only limited to these iPhone models.

Older iPhone models still need an app to read NFC tags. These are models 7 and 8. It is no different when compared to a scanning QR code. Scanning a QR code also needs an app or a camera to scan.

It is recommended to have the latest iOS software update. The latest software version update at this time is iOS13+.

iOS 12 and Background Reading

I heard talks that iPhone model 7 and 8 with the iOS 12 update have the ability to read tags. This is not true. According to Apple’s release notes on NFC, background reading is only limited to the iPhone 10 models. I also tested with an iPhone 8. It had an older iOS version. I updated it to the iOS 12 and had no luck reading an NFC tag in the background.

Things To Keep In Mind

There are a few things to keep in mind when reading NFC tags. To avoid unintentional reading, Apple will only read tags when the phone is in use. Below are also phone activities that prohibits background reading.

  • The device has never been unlocked
  • A Core NFC reader is in progress
  • Apple Pay Wallet is in use
  • The camera is in use
  • Airplane mode is enabled

Apple background reading supports only a limited URL schemes at this time.

  • Website URL (http/https) – httpss://www.example.com
  • Email – mailto:user@example.com
  • SMS – sms:+6198761234
  • Telephone – tel:+6198761234
  • Facetime – facetime://user@example.com
  • Facetime Audio – facetime-audio://user@example.com
  • Maps – http://maps.apple.com/?address=Apple%20Park,Cuperino,California
  • HomeKit Accesory Setup – X-HM://12345

(Source: Apple Developer Documentation) See the full documentation here.

If there are multiple records in the tag, Apple will use the first one. The record must also contain a universal link or supported scheme as shown above. What this means for businesses thinking about using NFC is that it can service both Apple and Android users. The downside is providing only one type of information such as a webpage link.

So how are you able to take advantage of this? Put the most important record first and all others behind. This means you can provide more records for Android users while keeping Apple users engaged.

The increasing support of NFC by Apple is welcoming. Maybe future iOS updates will make it easier and more flexible when an iPhone interacts with an NFC tag.

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