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Androids have long had one powerful advantage over iPhones: the ability to read and use NFC tags. But with Apple’s latest devices, the playing field is a bit more even.
That’s because Apple has opened up NFC to third-party developers and newer iPhones have the ability to scan NFC tags. And, more importantly, the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR sport background NFC tag reading.
Despite that, the full functionality of NFC tag reading hasn’t really been unlocked until now.
Those NFC stickers are purchasable within the Launch Center Pro and they can easily activate various shortcut “recipes” with a single tap.
- For example, you can have an NFC sticker near your bed that automatically brings up a list of your alarms for the next day.
- Another NFC sticker can be tapped to quickly trigger a message to a contact with your ETA.
- The options are pretty limitless and can range from NFC stickers to trigger certain HomeKit actions to ones that allow you to quickly enable a certain playlist or podcast when you set an iPhone down on a table.
As mentioned earlier, Apple’s newest iPhones allow users to harness NFC stickers without needing to open the app by way of background detection. iPhone 7 and earlier devices don’t have NFC background reading, meaning users need to open the app to scan NFC tags.
Of course, there are still a few hurdles keeping iPhone NFC reading from competing with the functionality on Android.
That’s because tapping an NFC tag will bring up a Launch Center Pro notification, which users need to tap to open the app and let it do its thing. Using NFC tags on Android is much more seamless.
But the fact that Apple opened up third-party NFC support bodes well for its future. Hopefully, future iPhones will be able to use NFC reading much more seamlessly. On a similar note, it isn’t hard to imagine Apple taking advantage of NFC tags with its own first-party Shortcuts app sometime in the future.