Updates to Apple’s Core NFC framework in iOS 13 will make it possible to write to NFC tags from an iPhone for the first time.
Support will also be added for a new kind of ‘value added service’ tag and for reading and writing to ISO 7816 smart cards and tags and ISO 15693 (NFC Forum Type 5) vicinity cards and tags. Integration with Siri Shortcuts for single tap, multi-step automated workflows is also being added.
Details of the new features unveiled by Apple at this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) include:
- NFCNDEFTag: This is an interface for interacting with an NDEF tag, which covers both NFC tag reading and writing. For writing, it allows the user to save an NDEF message to a writable tag and change the NDEF tag status to read-only, “preventing future write operations”.
- Support for Mifare NFC tag reading and writing.
- Support for FeliCa NFC tag reading and writing.
- Support for ISO 7816 smart card reading and writing, enabling developers to send an application protocol data unit (APDU) to the tag and receive a response APDU. This is expected to bring with it support for NFC passport reading but this has not yet been confirmed.
- Support for ISO 15693 NFC/RFID vicinity card/tag reading and writing.
- NFCVASReaderSession: Apple says that this is “a reader session for processing Value Added Service (VAS) tags”. No further details have yet been revealed but this is likely to be the mechanism for adding NFC tag support to Apple Pay, revealed by Apple Pay boss Jennifer Bailey last month, which will enable merchants to use NFC tags for loyalty sign-ups and for payments.
- Integration with Apple’s newly upgraded Siri Shortcuts service, enabling NFC tags to be used to initiate a single tap, multi-step workflow “when you tap your iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR.” Use cases for Shortcuts, which will be built into iOS 13, include providing “personalised routines for things like heading to work or going to the gym”, Apple suggests.
Sample code for creating NFC tags from an iPhone has also been released, enabling the user to “save data to tags, and interact with them using native tag protocols”.
Further details are expected to be released during “Core NFC Enhancements”, a WWDC session on 7 June, which promises to enable attendees to “learn how easy it is to add support for NFC in your app and take advantage of the newest capabilities such as NDEF writing and support for widely adopted native tag protocols”.
Apple also revealed during the keynote at this week’s WWDC 19 event that it is adding support for NFC P2P sharing.