Near Field Communication, abbreviated as NFC, is one of the great inventions for the new generation phones. This functionality enables different devices available within a few centimeters of each other to exchange information wirelessly. Some may call it similar functionality to bluetooth, but this is quite different. Also the transfer of information using NFC is very fast compared to bluetooth. Unlike android phones that have the ability to read NFC without any need to install external apps, the Iphone was a bit slower in the process and you would need an app to be installed before you can access the facility.
In this article we will help you gather more detailed information about the NFC tag readers in Iphone. So let’s dig deeper..
What is NFC Tag Reader
NFC tags readers are being used by the IoS apps running on supported devices to read data from electronic tags present on the real-world objects. As an example, consider a user scanning a toy to connect it with his/her video, a shopper has the facility to scan the in-store sign to access coupons, retail employees use to scan the products to check or track their inventory. The NFC tag readers are one of the best options available to make payments in following simple steps.
It was in Sep,2017 when Apple launched a new iphone along with the other apps to read the NFC tags. In earlier versions of Iphone NFC controllers present in the Iphone were only supported by Apple pay, but with the launch of NFC tag readers Apple has now joined the league of Android phones to scan various other electronic tags on objects to gather information or to make payments or even to transfer information wirelessly.
Apple has launched App clips as a NFC tag reader feature in its Iphone that helps many brands and merchants to make use of NFC tags and provide quick and easy access to mini maps. This NFC tag reader even allows its user to download a minimap on their iphone, which can be used later to gather information about the products and its services, without any need to download the full application of the product or service you are looking for. This app even provides its users the service of Apple Pay, that helps them pay for things like drinks and food without having to enter the card details.
NFC tag readers can be segregated into two groups, let us see what exactly are those and how they work.
In-App Tag Reading
Whenever an app is active, a user can enable single or multiple object scanning and can make a display of scanning sheet as n when the user is expected to scan something new. NFC Tag readers apps encourage people not to make any contact with physical objects, and to use such a facility the IoS devices must simply be within a few centimeters or rather close proximity of the tag. Users are not required to actually touch the tag. Well known as Scan and Hold, instead of Tap and Touch while asking people to scan objects.
Background Tag Reading
Background tag reading is another simpler way to scan electronic tags and make use of it when compared to the In-app tag reading. This background tag reading allows its user to quickly scan the tags in no time, without any need to first open the app and manually initiate the scanning. Devices that support the background scanning, automatically looks and scans the nearby compatible tags whenever the screen is illuminated.
Once the tag is being detected and scanned by the app, a system notification is being sent to the user which asks for their permission to send the tag data to the app for processing. The background tag reading is automatically disabled in cases when an NFC scanning sheet is visible, Wallets or Apple is used, even when the camera is being used to click pictures or the device is in airplane mode or is in locked state after a restart.
NFC tag readers still provide an in-app scanning of tags when the device does not support the background tag reading.
How NFC Works on the iPhone
For people who are new in understanding the term NFC, let’s try and explain you in brief.
In this generation of smartphones, every phone is made available with NFC controller chip in them, which is very similar to WiFi and GPS, NFC tags are quite cheap in price and passive RFID tags are being attached on to them, you may even find tags embedded on products, packaging, promotional items and many other physical things. The memory of these NFC tags is very small, which when written in encoded codes carry only a bit of data, which can be read by a NFC enabled device like an NFC tag reader. Whenever a phone comes in very close proximity or is only a few centimeters away from an NFC tag it detects and reads the data that was earlier encoded onto the NFC tag.
There are several modes of operation available with NFC tag reader, but based on the NFC tag reader app running on the device, it performs an action based on the type of encoded data into the NFC tag. As an example if any website URL is encoded on the NFC tag then as a common action NFC tag reader would detect the URL and will open the same in a browser, Thus an NFC tag is placed on physical object to provide to a digital experience when it is scanned using NFC tag reader within a phone.
Implementation of NFC in case the Iphone is quite different when compared to Android smartphones, which is quite common among the smartphone user and also the developers are used to it. Apple as of now is quite conservative in communicating with other apps for NFC and it is expected that Apple sooner or later will smoothen the rough spots in user experience and also will bring in some additional innovation to NFC on iOS in subsequent releases.
Below are some important points for the NFC tag reading on the Iphone:
- NFC tag reading is only supported by Iphone 7 and above, it is not being supported by the Iphone 6 and earlier version of iphone. As the Iphone 6 is not equipped with the NFC controller to support Apple Pay, Apple has decided not to allow the phone to haveNFC tag readers. There were many changes related to hardware in the NFC controller when moving from Iphone 6 to 7, which included a signal booster chip, to enhance the user experience or may be a reason to force people for an upgrade. Previous versions of the Iphone do not have the NFC hardware and cannot have NFC tag readers.
- An external app is required to use the NFC on iOS. As it does not have any in-built support for reading NFC tags and performing actions using the local device, and so a 3rd party app is required to be installed in order to have these features implemented. Androids have always handled the basic NDEF records on their servers, without needing any external app to be installed, as when any NDEF record is encoded on the NFC tag reader it will automatically open the website in a browser even when on the home screen. Whereas in case of Ios a 3rd party NFC tag reading app is mandatory to be installed and opened before reading an NFC tag. In Iphone NFC tag reader apps like GoToTags are required.
- With Iphone only the NFCtag reader mode is supported, NFC has many other modes of operation like read/write, tag emulation and peer-to-peer. On IoS only the reader/writer mode is supported and even then only reading is supported.
- Only the NDRF encoded NFC tags can be read by the Iphone NFC tag readers. Any unencoded NFC tags are not read by the tag readers. The tags that are being purchased from Amazon are usually not encoded and are of no use for the Iphone NFC tags readers as they cannot read unless and until the tags are encoded. Apple’s GoToTags store helps by encoding such tags for NFC tag readers to detect them and provide the desired information. NFC encoder is used by thousands of businesses to encode NFC tags themselves.
- An NFC tag reader must explicitly trigger the process of detecting and reading the NC tags. In case of Android smartphones NFC tags can be polled in the background and can listen to NDEF messages for which the app was explicitly coded, whereas in case of iOS, reading the NFC tags is explicit and manual action is required in the foreground.
- Reading NFC tags on the iPhone is FAST! Whatever they did to the hardware is impressive as it almost instantaneously reads an NFC tag with a website record; much faster when compared to any Android implementation observed till now.
How to enable NFC Tag reader in Iphone
Below steps can be followed to enable the NFC tag reader in your Iphone.
- Open Settings
- Scroll down and look for the Control Center option
- List of different available options to be added in the control center can be seen
- Search for NFC Tag reader
- Use the three horizontal lines, to drag and drop the feature into the control centre
- Navigate back to the home screen and launch the control center either by swiping down from the right top corner of the screen or swiping up from the bottom of the screen, depending on the iPhone model in use.
- User can now see the NFC tag reader icon available in the control center
- Click on the icon to launch it from there and get started with the scanning of objects