There’s a huge amount of new stuff coming in iOS 13 just on the surface — so much in fact that Apple didn’t have time to talk about it all on stage, but the features that are coming under the hood for developers may be just as interesting as all of the cool new things that we’ll be seeing in Apple’s own first-party apps.
Among these is the fact that Apple is significantly opening up Near Field Communication (NFC) technology with the release of iOS 13, allowing developers unprecedented access to the NFC chips that have been included in every iPhone since the debut of Apple Pay back in 2014 with the iPhone 6.
While NFC is the technology that allows for contactless payments to be made from your iPhone and Apple Watch, there’s a lot more to it that Apple users have been unable to take advantage of due to Apple’s restrictions on allowing developers access to the NFC chips in its devices. Apple’s reasons for these restrictions aren’t entirely clear; optimists believe it’s for security reasons while cynics feel that Apple simply doesn’t want other banking apps rolling their own payment solutions that would compete with Apple Pay, but regardless of the reasons it’s put a limitation on the iPhone platform that simply doesn’t exist in the Android world, where NFC is wide open by comparison.
While Apple has slowly been expanding NFC capabilities beyond traditional Apple Pay, with support for transit systems, student ID cards, and even electronic ticketing, up until now the technology has mostly been limited to what Apple itself adds to the system. However, as reported by TechCrunch, the company announced during last week’s WWDC developer sessions that the Core NFC framework in iOS 13 is going to open things up to allow developers to write third party apps to cover all of those things that Apple is unwilling or unable to handle directly.
For example apps can now read passports and contactless smart cards, and interact with NFC-enabled hardware such as smart tags that could be located in kiosks or around the home or office. Read on for some examples of apps and services that are already planning to take advantage of the new NFC capabilities.