With the release of iOS 13, the iPhone’s NFC capabilities are getting much more powerful. Apple’s Core NFC framework now supports not only tag reading but also writing of NDEF formatted tags, as well as direct access to issue native NFC commands for protocols ISO/IEC 7816 combined with ISO/IEC 14443, ISO/IEC 15693, MIFARE, and FeliCa products. For all practical purposes, this is the full range of NFC protocols for NFC tags and cards deployed 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 configure a tag encoded with an NDEF format
- Access to low-level information of the NFC chip, such as UID and historical bytes
- 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
Using NFC Passive Tags with iOS 13
Our extensive NFC passive tag IC portfolio from the NTAG proximity and ICODE vicinity product families is leading the way in IoT connected objects, with secure edge-to-cloud connectivity. NXP products enable advanced product authentication and anti-counterfeiting, help improve supply chain visibility, and augment direct customer engagements.
Users can now read and write to our NFC Forum-compliant and certified NTAG and ICODE tags. iOS 13 supports the use of advanced security mechanisms, which allows to format, configure, and authenticate tags with high-level cryptographic commands, such as tag or mutual authentication. Writing of NDEF and native data on the tag also enables new user-generated content in the field, such as adding one’s personal detail or an inspection date onto a tagged product.
Using NTAG Connected Tags with iOS 13
NXP’s NTAG I2C and NTAG 5 families offer next-generation connected tag solutions for embedded devices, enabling easy parameterization or configuration of devices in the field and on the production line. So, any iPhone user in the field can easily perform these tasks.
Using NTAG SmartSensor with iOS 13
iOS 13 supports NDEF writing, so iPhone users can now configure and start/stop NTAG SmartSensor 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.
Using MIFARE with iOS 13
iOS 13 supports MIFARE products to enable innovative Smart City use cases for transport ticketing, access control, micropayment, loyalty programs, and more. With the arrival of iOS 13, it is possible to develop apps that can use the feature set of MIFARE® DESFire®, MIFARE Plus® and MIFARE Ultralight® products. As such developers can create new applications like displaying content on a smart card, mobile ticketing or a personalization client for access management cards, just to name a few.
NXP’s MIFARE DESFire and MIFARE Ultralight products can hold NDEF formatted content and are fully compatible with the NFC Forum Tag Type specifications. NDEF formatted content can enable automatic mobile interactions even without having to launch an app. Reading of business cards, redirection to a specific URL, and pointing to content in the AppStore are new ways on how to interact with customers holding a smart card or ticket based on these MIFARE ICs.
NXP supports its customers and app developers with a wide variety of tools to facilitate the development of iOS apps that can interact with NFC NDEF tags and MIFARE product-based smart cards:
TagInfo: App to show tag details
- To show NDEF contents, and its low-level protocol information for Type 4 tags
- Available in January 2020*
TagWriter: App to read/write NFC Forum type tags
- To read/write NDEF tags, erase/format NFC-compliant tags
- Download here
NTAG SmartSensor: Software development kit (SDK) with example firmware and source code for iOS13 apps
- SDK 12.3 contains sources for all iOS demonstration apps. Release date: December 2019*
- SDK 12.4 will contain sources for a first NDEF-write example app. Release date: February 2020*
*Release date may change due to the App Store release process.
Contact our NFC experts and engage with other app developers in our NFC Community.