Apple to let brands and merchants use NFC tags to provide easy access to mini apps

Smartphone using Apple App Clip to pay for parking
APP CLIPS: Merchants can use NFC tags to let iPhone users download a mini app for activities such as parking

Apple has announced a new App Clips service that will enable brands, merchants and service providers to use NFC tags to let iPhone owners quickly and easily download a mini app, which they can use to access information about a product or service — and pay for coffee, car parking or scooter rental without needing to enter their card details.

“An App Clip is a small part of an app,” Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, explained during Apple’s WWDC 2020 keynote. “It’s light and fast and easy to discover, so you can quickly get what you need right when you need it.”

“You don’t need to enter credit card numbers because App Clips can use Apple Pay for payments,” he added. “And you don’t have to manually log into an account because it can take advantage of Sign in with Apple.”

“App Clips are all about getting to a part of an app at the moment you need it, so it was critical that we made them really easy to find,” he explained.

“App Clips can be easily discovered and launched from the web. You can launch App Clips from Messages, when friends share them with you, when you want to order takeouts from a restaurant in Maps, you can launch an App Clip right from a place card.

“You’ll be able to tap on NFC tags out in the world on things like parking meters, or you can scan QR codes to launch App Clips that work with products you purchase.

“The best way to discover App Clips will be with a new Apple-designed App Clip code,” he added. “So, when you see one, you’ll know that there’s an App Clip waiting for you. They incorporate both a visual code and NFC so you tap on them or scan them with a camera to bring up an App Clip.”

You can watch Federighi unveil App Clips and the design for the new App Clips code in a recording of the WWDC keynote , starting at 27:37:

Apple is also working with businesses “like Yelp” to enable them to offer App Clips to the small and micro businesses they work with, Federighi added.

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