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Owners of Android-powered, NFC-capable smartphones have for years been able to use the technology for far more than to carry out mobile payment transactions — allowing the ability to communicate freely with other NFC-enabled Android devices or even with a wide variety of 3rd-party peripherals such as speaker systems or cameras.
While the iPhone 6 or newer also features in-built NFC support, the feature has been exclusively reserved by Apple to help facilitate Apple Pay transactions. That is until just recently, when notorious jailbreak hacker-extraordinaire, Elias Limneos, announced that he has enabled a similar unlocked NFC functionality on his iPhone 6s handset via a self-discovered jailbreak tweak which has allowed his iOS 10-running handset to communicate freely with NFC-enabled tags and more.
In a brief video posted to his official YouTube channel on Friday, the notorious hacker-jailbreaker showcases his jailbroken iPhone 6s communicating with and responding to a variety of NFC-equipped tags, promptly responding to the presence of each tag by issuing a notification. Check out the video below.
Limneos acknowledges that while he is still familiarizing himself with the variety of NFC protocols, and discovering more efficient ways to manage the reading and writing of data, his hack in its current form should be able to work on any jailbroken iPhone 6 or newer. As you’ll see below, Limneos states that the hack can be used to carry out basic functions like read NFC tags or authenticate devices and peripherals. He goes on to say, “You could use [the hack] to open an RFID door with your iPhone, or move a tag close to your iPhone and have it respond with an action.”
While Android users have enjoyed the benefits of unlocked NFC for many years now, Apple has restricted the technology on its iPhone so that it will only work to facilitate Apple Pay transactions. Although the Cupertino-company has given no indication that it plans to change this by opening NFC up to developers, for example, Limneos’ hack nevertheless holds great promise as a feature that — at least for jailbroken iPhones — could enable a much broader range of communications between them and other NFC-enabled devices.
Even despite the promise and possibilities of Limneos’ hack, however, it’s highly unlikely that Apple will ever open up its NFC utility to anything beyond Apple Pay — and the main reason for that, as 9to5mac points out, has to do with the speed and latency with which the iPhone can decipher and communicate with other devices.
In its current form, if an NFC-enabled iPhone comes into contact with another NFC-enabled device the Apple Pay interface will automatically appear, which saves the user time because the iPhone doesn’t take more time to discern what type of device it’s trying to communicate with. Still, there’s no question that unlocked NFC on the iPhone has tons of potential. If you’re daring enough to void your warranty by jailbreaking your iPhone, Limneos is planning to release his discovery as an NFC-enabler tweak on the Cydia App Store in the not-too-distant future.