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Using NFC with iPhone: A 2023 Guide

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Aug 04, 2023
  • RFID
NFC with iPhone

Ever since the advent of wireless technology and communication, we have led several advancements in our technological infrastructure. From the first use of radio in the military during WW1, to the miniaturization of it to the point where we can wear it on our wrists. One very important subset of radio technology is NFC (Near Field Communication). Today we use NFC for a lot of things, including our bank cards, travel passes, and even our iPhones. Yes, even iPhone has NFC capabilities.

And that is exactly the topic for today, so let’s get started.

What is NFC Technology?

NFC stands for Near-Field Communication; it is a type of RF communication protocol that works by transmitting data using the near-field. It is a subset of RFID technology and works on pretty much the same principle. Near Field Communication technology is a type of AIDC system, that allows users a host of applications. 

So, let’s take a brief look at how this technology works.

How Does it Work?

Inside in NFC device, you will find a coil-shaped antenna, a coil shape boosts the signals significantly by superimposing electromagnetic fields over one another. This not only increases the signal strength of the near field but also keeps the broadcast radius small, keeping the field contained.

A near-field communication system relies on the principle of inductive coupling to operate. Let’s discuss what inductive coupling means. The device will use the coil to generate a strong NFC field around it. Whenever an NFC-enabled device or tag enters this field, it has an electrical charge induced in it by the near field; this phenomenon is known as electromagnetic induction.

The tag uses this electric charge to power up and broadcast a carrier signal with the information stored inside it. It can also be used to send requests and action orders to other devices with NFC capabilities.

History of Pairing NFC Technology with iPhones

Apple has been including in-built NFC systems into the iPhones since the iPhone 6, in the year 2014. However, since then, the technology has become far more advanced. Presently, iPhones can perform a variety of functions using the in-built NFC chip.

Initially, till iOS 11, iPhones could only access the NDEF (main memory) memory of a near-field tag/device. This changed in the subsequent updates to the operating system, and the latest iOS 15 allows smartphones to be able to read even the UID of the tags.

How to Enable NFC Scanning on iPhones?

The previous generations of the iPhone, i.e., from iPhone 6 to 12 required an additional app to enable the NFC features and scan the tags. However, in 13 and 14, Apple has included background tag scanning. This means that the iPhone will always have the NFC service enabled. All the users need to do is touch the tag on the upper left section of the back of the phone & it will automatically read the tag.

Applications of NFC in iPhones

As we have mentioned above a couple of times, the integration of NFC technology into iPhones has provided users with a host of applications and functionality.

(A). Conduct Payments

Users can utilize this system to conduct contactless quick payments using their phones. All you need is an iPhone & a vendor/merchant that accepts Apple Pay. All the users need to do is tap their phone on the Apply Pay machine/tag and their phone will automatically open the payment portal. Authenticate using the passcode or Face ID & you’re done.

This makes paying for goods and services extremely quick and hassle-free.

(B). Use Shortcuts

Another great application of this technology is to automate the shortcuts and functions of your iPhone. All you need are NFC tags and the Shortcut application on the phone. Access the app and add shortcuts to the functions & apps you need, then assign a tag to them by tapping on it. 

For example, you added a shortcut to open the music player and then assigned a tag to it. Then, put the tag securely on the kitchen counter. So, now all you need to do is place your device next to the tag & it will automatically start playing music.

(C). Redirect to URL

A very common application of AIDC technologies like RFID, barcodes, and NFC with smartphones, has been URL redirection. This means that your smartphone reads the tag or QR code, and it redirects it to a specific URL.

The same can be done using NFC technology. By simply tapping on a tag, the phone will redirect to a particular website/URL. This can be used for a lot of purposes like marketing, discount offers, e-menus, etc.

(D). Open Social Media Profiles

Nowadays most people have an established online presence. We use it for either our day-to-day social interactions or for marketing/promotional purposes. Instead of the old method of sharing your profiles using WhatsApp, Bluetooth, and Email; most people nowadays prefer using NFC. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s quick. Just place an NFC sticker on the back cover of your iPhone and program it with a redirect URL to your social media profile.

(E). Access Control FOB

In addition to the fun applications, we’ve discussed till now, users can also use this technology for more important and task-heavy purposes. One of them is automating access control to secure premises. Instead of a PVC smart card, businesses can program their iPhones to act as a FOB access key for their offices and buildings.

(F). Operating Smart Homes/Offices

Aside from offices, you can also use the NFC capabilities of your iPhone to integrate with smart home systems. You can use the phone to act as a trigger to operate the lights, electronic devices, fans, etc.

Benefits of NFC Integration

NFC not only makes performing day-to-day tasks quick, but it also makes them far more secure and may even automate some. The advent & the subsequent integration of this technology into our phones have provided us with a whole new way of life and sharing information.

Let’s check out the basic benefits of using NFC with an iPhone.

(A). Automation & Simplification

The biggest benefit of using this technology is the level of automation it provides. This automation decreases the complexity of any electronic or data communication infrastructure by reducing working parts. For example, by centralizing the access control of an office to an NFC control system, all you have to do is set up a profile for your device, and all the devices on the premises will activate and perform according to your needs.

(B). Streamlines Tasks

In addition to automation, these systems also make tasks a lot simpler to perform and quicker. For example, instead of opening an online payment app, scanning the seller’s QR code/filling in the information, and then putting in the amount and pin. With NFC, just tap on the payment sticker, authenticate using Face ID, and you're done. This saves a lot of time and keeps the functions streamlined.

(C). Security

Unlike contactless bank cards access control smart cards, NFC on iPhone provides far greater security. This is because, users can put additional security firewalls like passcodes and Face ID, that would prevent anyone from accessing the NFC functions of your device.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is it safe to use NFC on iPhone?

Yes, it is completely safe and easy to use the NFC functions on iPhones. Contrary to popular myths, the radio signal in NFC devices is completely harmless. In addition, the data these systems use is heavily encrypted, preventing any unauthorized 3rd party from intercepting or accessing the data.

Q2. What are the benefits of using NFC?

There are a lot of benefits of relying on NFC technology for day-to-day use, like:

•   Ease of Use & Convenience

   Data Security


Q3. Is Apple Pay NFC safe?

Yes, Apple Pay NFC allows users to enable two-factor authentication options like passcodes and Face ID. Now someone may be able to steal your phone without you noticing, but I doubt the same can be said for your face.

So, yes, Apple Pay is significantly safer than cash and even credit/debit cards.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Aug 04, 2023

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