Apple Expands Near Field Communication (NFC) Capabilities

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In 2012 when the Apple iPhone 5 launched, many Apple users were disappointed that NFC was not included as a feature. True to form, using its closed source system, Apple was taking its time vetting NFC technology by using bar codes and its Passbook app.

Android, an open source system, of which Samsung is one, began showcasing NFC in the U.S. as early as 2011 - in part, letting any mobile phone manufacturer discover where tweaking was necessary and allowing innovation. Google Wallet is an example of Android innovation using NFC.

Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were the first Apple models with NFC, but, up until now, Near Field Communication in Apple products was used only for payments and not for reading NFC tags - you could pay your debts or loan money using Apple Pay in iMessage, but little more. Android users had a variety of financial services to use including PayPal and Square plus extra value services because of open NFC sourcing.

Although both operating systems offered similar advances in technology, Apple was behind in offering NFC beyond its use in financial transactions. And Apple wasn’t worried. NFC devices didn’t have the appeal Android developers had anticipated: in the U.S., the general public was too invested in the use of credit cards and even paper checks to make the change to electronic monetary transactions. Smartphone security also was an issue.

But in 2019, the Apple world changed and so will the world of NFC, with a little nudge.

Apple expands use of RFID NFC 

With its adoption of NFC background tag reading for use in realms other than the financial world, other uses for the iPhone can be realized.

For example, an iPhone that couldn’t interface with NFC scanners at transportation terminals now can be read with the new iPhones.

Thus, potentially bringing into the NFC market the 11% or more of market share iPhone had in 2018.

With this potential boost in NFC users, more NFC scanners will be purchased and more users will become accustomed to the convenience of phone hardware that all-in-one, unbridled NFC data retrieval provides.

“All-in-one” NFC phones convert the paper and card clutter in purses and wallets (sometimes, causing shoulder and hip problems) into one efficient device: accessible and organized.

Fans of the iPhone often bought the device because the basic operating format didn’t change and because of the long-held belief in Apple security.

Now, perhaps, the same notion that Apple devices are more resistant to hacking, primarily through in-house engineering and vetting, than their competitor’s offerings will carry over into the use of the native NFC in their phones and enthusiasm for NFC advantages other than financial advantages will grow. Plus, the continuity of design remains.

Apple needs to push these advantages, however, and has been slow to do so, leaking other features such as text effects, seamless Wi-Fi, SMS messaging and the latest in-app P2P payment capabilities over the NFC feature which is equally as attractive - if not more so. 

Likewise, other cell phone providers have been slow to showcase NFC. The hesitancy could be attributed to the lack of NFC scanners at the point of service and the resistance to replace scanners already in place. (NFC tags need to be scanned by NFC readers.)

So, consumers must initiate the purchase of NFC readers to maximize the power of their phones, but cell phone providers also need to educate consumers on how powerful the device they carry is.

Additionally, cell phone providers need to show companies that use readers how installation or an upgrade to NFC readers increase ROI.

So how do providers do that?  By reminding companies that consumers will buy when they save time and emotional energy through knowledge and organization. This is, ultimately what NFC provides.

Save time with RFID NFC

Take for instance these examples of how time and emotional energy are saved through NFC:

  • Vending Machines, Parking Meters 

A college student doesn’t have the correct change to run the pop machine, the washer at the laundromat or the parking meter. Granted, a bill changer might solve the problem, but so will an NFC cell phone held close to those machines - and it’s handy. Thirst quenched, undies clean, parking secured: no hassle.

  • Turnstiles, Toll Terminals, Secure Areas

A nurse has multiple cards and badges to permit access to a number of places (the highway, the office, a cabinet....) using RFID, bar codes and other technologies, but there is a shuffling - at home, on the road and at work - through a stack of cards and several badges before the relevant ones are found to permit access.

Time is wasted, organization is questionable, and frustration mounts - especially if cards, badges etc. are dropped or missing in the process. NFC, again, eliminates the hassle - easy pass - because all of the permissions are stored in one, NFC enabled cell phone that, itself, can be located through radio frequency technology.

  • Data Exchange

 A city planner wants contact information for all the stakeholders at a hearing on zoning.

A paper and pencil is passed around to retrieve the stakeholder’s contact information. In leaving, the planner puts the paper with the paraphernalia brought to the meeting.

In retrospect, the paper passing was distracting and where is the contact information?

With widespread NFC use, by touching phones (no matter what brand), the planner would have had all the contact information neatly contained in a carried cellphone.

  • Promotion, Advertising

An appliance salesperson has a sale on refrigerator/freezers. The sales associates on the floor can tell the consumer about all the specs on each model offered. 

However, if each appliance has an NFC enabled tag, the consumer can gain all the information needed about each model without the presence of a hovering associate.

Additionally, the information garnered could go even further than the associate’s knowledge leading to understanding the energy consumption of the appliance, the warranties, the country of manufacture and so on.

Yes, other technologies could give the same information, but they’re another app. on your phone and do you really want another app?

NFC now native to the cellphone is a win-win once the appropriate scanners are in place and the public knows what a blessing it is to use them.

And security, equally good and better than credit cards. Along with the fantastic encryptions that occur, pin numbers and security locks account for that.

Metalcraft offers an entire line of standard and custom designed NFC tags and labels. Contact us for information about how NFC can be implemented for your next project.

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