Apple Expands NFC Capabilities with iOS 13

Apple will make NFC much more useful in iPhones running iOS 13, and these enhancements will impact retail, medical, government and security industries.

According to a new report from TechCrunch, iPhone users will soon be able to read a full array of ISO 7816 contactless smartcards and tags, including passports, transit, and access cards.

Apple already uses NFC to support Apple Pay and the Apple Pay Express Transit system which is rolling out at this time. While it has incrementally extended the tasks NFC supports over the years, the company has limited its NFC support to the NDEF standard until now but extends this with support for new standards in its Core NFC Framework in iOS 13.

In addition, iOS apps will be able to write to NFC tags and place a lock so it can’t be written to again if needed. The core NFC framework will also support tag-reading and writing beyond the NFC NDEF Tag to include Mifare, FeliCa, ISO 7816 and ISO 15693.

Support for these standards is significant. It means that rather than simply being able to read NFC tags, developers will be given the tools they need in order to create apps that can also write to and local blank tags.

These changes also mean iPhones will offer better support for the transit, passport and access cards/systems that are already widely used worldwide. In fact, the Japanese government is planning to add support for NFC tag-reading to the country’s national ID (the Individual Number Card), while the U.K.’s NFC passport-reader app will work on the iPhone after the updates.

“This announcement means that ReadID will also work on iPhones, using the embedded internal NFC capability,” the company said in a blog post.

“Needless to say we are very excited about this,” the announcement continued. “We’re convinced this will have a major impact on the online use cases such as mobile onboarding for banks, especially for countries with a high iPhone penetration.”

iOS 13 is expected to be released in mid-September alongside the lineup of this year’s iPhone models.

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