Apple Opens Gates for Third Parties to Access iPhone’s NFC in iOS 11

For the first time in Apple’s history, the tech giant has granted limited access to its NFC chip in iPhone 7 / 7 Plus for third-party app developers. The decision might also apply to this year’s phones that will come with iOS 11.

What’s NFC?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication. It is a set of communication protocols that enable two electronic devices, one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone, to establish communication by bringing them within 4 cm range. The technique that works behind NFC is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

nfc in iphone

An NFC chip operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it’s activated by another chip, small amounts of data between the two devices can be transferred when held a few centimeters from each other. It doesn’t require any pairing code to link up and it’s very power efficient as it runs on low capacity.

What Does Apple’s NFC Chip Help With?

Until now, Apple Pay was the only allowed app to use the NFC chip for payments.

While demonstrating Apple Watch syncing data with a gym equipment at the recently concluded WWDC keynote, hints were dropped to improve the chip’s efficiency beyond payment options. However, a new developer document said that third-party apps would be able to use it too.

NFC chip

According to Engadget, presently, the iPhone’s NFC chip is of no use for anything other than Apple’s in-house payment system, but the new framework is supposed to let the chip in the latest iPhones read any tags — not just Apple Pay tags — and process them based on the phone’s location. NFC could open up more ways for iOS apps to communicate with connected devices and iPhones could also replace NFC-based key cards or transit passes like London’s Oyster card and the Bay Area’s Clipper card.

We are keeping our fingers crossed!

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