A whole new look on a whole new level
is what Apple introduces with the release of iOS 13. Announced at the WWDC
Conference in June, and unveiled with the new iPhone 11 series on the 10th of
September, it’s finally released on the 19th of September.
So NFC, the technology that powers Apple Pay and other smart features for iOS
apps, is getting a big upgrade. iPhone apps will now be able to do more than
just read NFC tags, they’ll also be able to write directly to tags and
use multiple native protocols to interact with tags.
This goes hand in hand with Apple’s announced plans to create great new
user experiences using NFC in their own product solutions. For example, NFC
stickers used by retailers and service providers to trigger Apple Pay payments
or to make it easier for their customers to sign up for loyalty
programs—all without having an app installed, as shown at the Transact
Conference in April. Or consumers can easily activate the new
Apple Pay card
by tapping their iPhone on the NFC tag embedded in the payment card’s
The hundreds of millions of iPhone users worldwide can benefit from the
convenient ‘tap to interact’ functionality, and this will in
turn impact many new NFC applications in the retail, medical, government,
transit and security industries.
NFC Scale-Up to Drive Connected Things Markets
With this upgrade to
Apple’s Core NFC framework, the iPhone’s NFC capabilities are getting much more powerful. Models
that run on iOS 13, from the iPhone 7 up to the brand new iPhone 11 can now
support tag reading and writing across multiple protocols, including not only
NDEF-formatted tags (for end-user focused content), but also
MIFARE®, ISO/IEC 7816 combined with ISO/IEC 14443, ISO/IEC
15693 and FeliCa™. For all practical purposes, this is the
full range of NFC protocols deployed for NFC tags and smart cards today. That
means NFC capabilities on iOS 13 will work in more places with more types of
tags and cards than before, thereby opening up a range of contactless
applications for iPhone users.
Overall, this is great news for the NFC and Connected Things markets.
According to ABI Research, the number of connected objects is expected to
reach a record 40 billion by 2022 and physical things are becoming digital
engagement points to act as a bridge between the digital and physical worlds.
Adding iOS 13 users to the total smartphone universe means that almost all of
the two billion people worldwide who own a smartphone now also have an NFC
reader in their hands that can interact with the NFC tags and smart cards
around them, enjoying many of the smart home, smart business and smart city
applications that are becoming a reality today.
What’s New on iOS 13?
Here is what Apple is adding to iOS 13 for NFC in its phones:
Writing on an NFC tag using NDEF format (a standardized format used to store
and exchange on-tag information like URLs, plain text, etc.)
- The ability to lock a tag encoded with an NDEF format
Access to low-level information of the NFC chip, such as UID and historical
Support for the protocols ISO/IEC 7816* combined with ISO/IEC 14443**,
ISO/IEC 15693, MIFARE® and FeliCa™,
handled by direct access and issuing NFC protocol-based commands to the chip
*ISO/IEC 7816 is an international standard for smart cards, used for example, in
passports and ID documents.
** 7816 Tag APIs are defined on top of ISO/IEC 14443. ISO/IEC 14443 is an
international standard for proximity tags and cards, used for identification
and communication transmission protocols. ISO/IEC 15693 is an international
standard for vicinity tags, used for example, for products traced in the supply
chain and in ski passes. MIFARE® is an NXP IC product family
based on the open ISO 14443 standard, used in contactless smart cards for
public transport, access control, loyalty and micropayment services.
FeliCa™ is a contactless smart card system from Sony in Japan.
How iOS 13 Can Take Advantage of NXP’s Advances in NFC Technology
iOS 13 supports more advanced NFC chip security mechanisms, such as
verification of tag originality, tamper status detection or cryptographic
authentication with a secret key, so brand owners can use our secure
NXP DNA authentication chip technology
(NTAG DNA, ICODE DNA) to protect against counterfeiting and diversion.
iOS 13 supports writing of NDEF data on the tag with a lock command, so
brands can enable user-generated on-tag content, like adding a personal
detail, a medical profile or an emergency notification number on driving or
sports gear or adding a preference on a smart home device, tagged with
NTAG and ICODE tags.
iOS 13 now fully supports use cases supported by
NTAG Connected Tags
from the NTAG I2C and NTAG 5 families, such as parameterization,
configuration, diagnosis and firmware updates of smart home and industrial
devices, so any iPhone user in the field can easily perform these tasks.
iOS 13 empowers citizens to manage services on a contactless card, with an
MIFARE Ultralight IC—connecting the card to the online portal of a service provider
through a simple tap of their iPhone to the card. Transport operators can
thus enable stored value and ticket choices on-the-go, and retailers can
have shoppers easily manage their loyalty scheme balance, allowing points to
be spent both online and offline.
iOS 13 supports NDEF writing, so iPhone users can now configure and
tags. By using bidirectional communication, it is possible to exchange
security credentials: One can control the access to logged data, or mutually
authenticate tags with cloud servers. NTAG SmartSensor tags enable
state-of-the-art condition monitoring and data logging for sensitive
applications such as cold chain monitoring with temperature sensors, therapy
compliance with smart blisters or fill level detection with smart packages.
NXP—Becoming Part of Your Solution
As the identification industry’s number-one supplier of semiconductor
technology, we’ve assembled a highly optimized portfolio of NFC tag and
card ICs. Our products deliver standout performance for passive, connected and
semi-passive sensing solutions, at every level of security, so it’s
easy to find the right fit for any application. Every day, in every part of
the world, billions of people rely on NXP technologies to enable smart, secure
interactions and transactions. To make application development fast and easy,
and facilitate system integration, we also offer a range of purpose-built
Interested in finding out more about new iOS 13 NFC capabilities and how
these can be best leveraged by NXP’s advanced NFC product solutions?
Please stay tuned—the next blog in our iOS 13 and NFC series will
be coming out soon.
Apple, Apple Pay and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US
and other countries.