Home › ›What Hath Apple Wrought? Thoughts on Apple’s Recent NFC-related Announcement

On 16 Jun, 2017 By 0 Comments

Now that the hubbub around Apple’s recent IOS 11 announcement regarding NFC has died down a bit, I wanted to take a breath and give you my thoughts on its implications for the NFC ecosystem.

Before I do that, please note that the NFC Forum does not speak for its member companies. We speak for the industry. I encourage you to explore more details about this announcement at: https://developer.apple.com/documentation/corenfc and email me your thoughts and comments at phunter@nfc-forum.org.

What the NFC Forum can address is what the recent Apple announcement means to the NFC ecosystem. I believe there are four broad areas in which this announcement will have a significant and positive impact on the NFC ecosystem:

Look for Increased Tag Activity in North America

  • Apple’s announcement will broaden the market for tag manufacturers and application providers.   One barrier for developers seeking to deploy applications was the lack of support for tag reading on the iPhone.   While we have seen some great advances, particularly in Europe and Asia where Android dominates the market, North America has been lagging in its adoption of NFC tags.   We look forward to seeing more applications coming online as developers embrace this expanded market for handsets that support NFC technology.

NFC is Now a Horizontal Technology

  • A key impact of this announcement is that – almost overnight – NFC is no longer a niche technology. It further differentiates the use of NFC tags as a secure, easy to use technology with a broad range of functionality.   NFC is now a horizontal technology like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cameras. It’s available, free and easy to use.  How we interact with physical and digital objects will change forever. Think of the coming explosion in the Internet of Things, retail, public transport, and automotive smartphone use cases for consumers.  Think of all the companies built on the premise of the universality of NFC in IoT and mobility; their market has almost doubled overnight with this announcement.

NFC Tags are on the Rise

  • Apple’s opening of NFC on its iPhones ties into the NFC Forum’s work to develop a Tag Testing program. Last year, the NFC Forum issued a call to tag manufacturers to help develop a tag testing program.  It is important for companies that deploy tags to know the tags are going to perform according to NFC Forum specifications.   We will be launching the testing later this year, and it will allow manufacturers to test tag performance and assure their customers that consumers will have a predictable experience when using an NFC tag with either an Android or Apple phone.

NFC and the Halo Effect

  • IOS 11 will also increase awareness of the benefits of using NFC tags for a wide range of use cases.  Some of the industry’s largest consumer brands are NFC Forum members and advocates of NFC technology.   Google, Samsung, Sony, and Apple all make significant impacts when they bring new features to market.    This announcement amplifies the strengths of the technology and creates a halo effect for the entire NFC ecosystem.

What Hath Apple Wrought?

Apple IOS 11’s support of NFC tags means that all iPhone 7s and newer Apple phones will be able to read NFC tags just like Android devices.  This means most people who own smartphones (over two billion or almost a 1/3rd of the population of Earth) now have an NFC reader available in their pocket to interact with NFC tags anywhere and at any time. The way in which we interact with the digital world will change completely and rise exponentially. Speaking for the industry, I can honestly say that the work NFC Forum members do on standards, specifications and certification will become even more important as we move further into this decade. Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the changes being wrought in the NFC ecosystem and what they mean to you.

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