iOS 11 could offer more uses for NFC

Apple has a rather uncomfortable history with NFC, first shunning and then adopting the tap-and-go technology. However, the latest developments at WWDC hint that those turbulent times have passed.

The company has already revealed new NFC functions for the Apple Watch featured in watchOS 4. Documents for the new iOS 11 release show that the iPhone NFC chip could handle a lot more than just Passbook check-ins and Apple Pay transactions in the future.

Despite the fact that this feature was not mentioned during the keynote address at WWDC on Monday June 5th, iOS 11 Beta introduces support for Core NFC to both iPhone 7 models and, most likely, to future hardware also.

Core NFC is portrayed in release documents as “a new framework for reading Near Field Communications (NFC) tags and data in NFC Data Exchange Format.” Presently the iPhone NFC chip cannot be used for anything but Apple’s own payment system . The revamped framework, however, seems to enable the chip in new iPhones to scan any tags — not simply Apple Pay tags — and act on this data based on where the phone is located.

NFC offers the possibility of additional ways for iOS apps to interface with connected widgets. iPhones could replace transit passes or keycards based on NFC, including the Bay Area’s Clipper card and transit passes such as the London Underground Oyster card.

Theoretically, Core NFC might also support features such as tap-to-pair Bluetooth speakers — a luxury Android users have had access to for some time. It is also possible, however, that Apple could decide to avoid features like this on iPhone to restrict the pairing experience to AirPods and similar gadgets fitted with its patented W1 chip.

The other side of the coin is that NFC may introduce possible privacy issues to iOS. Similar to Bluetooth Beacons, Near Field Communications tags also allow smooth location-based communications, which ensure an enhanced user experience, at the cost of surrendering a certain amount of privacy.

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About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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