In September 2017, Apple announced the release of iOS 11. iOS 11 features Core NFC SDK, allowing 3rd party apps on iPhone 8, 7, X - ability to read NDEF records from some NFC tag types. Prior to iOS 11, the NFC controller in the iPhone only supports Apple Pay.
Apple Releases Core NFC on iOS 11
In September 2017, Apple announced the release of iOS 11. iOS 11 features Core NFC SDK, allowing 3rd party apps on iPhone 8, 7, X - ability to read NDEF records from some NFC tag types. Prior to iOS 11, the NFC controller in the iPhone only supports Apple Pay. Now that is possible to read NFC tags using an iPhone, we want to discuss the limitations of NFC on iOS as well as the differences in using NFC on Android and on iOS.
Built-in Core NFC Limitations on iOS 11
♦ As of this writing, only 3 iPhone models that support this feature - the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and the iPhone X - and they must be running iOS 11. iPhone 6 and below will not work, nor will any of Apple's iPad models.
♦ The iPhone can only read NDEF encoded NFC tags. Tags that are not encoded cannot be read. Serialio offers an NFC tag encoding service so that your NFC tags will work with your iPhone. Contact us for more details.
♦ The iPhone can't write NDEF data to NFC tags. Note idChamp® RS4 can write NDEF data to using every modern iOS device, even those running older iOS 10, 9, etc.
♦ The iPhone can't read NFC CSN (Card Serial Number) or UID (Unit ID). Scanfob® and idChamp® Brand RFID-NFC readers can read CSN/UID using every modern iOS device, even those running older iOS 10, 9, etc.
Software for iOS Built-in NFC Reader
♦ An iPhone app, like Cloud-In-Hand® Mobile Grid, is required to make use of the built-in NFC reader on iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X.
♦ Another app option is iScanBrowser, which provides an off-the-shelf solution for customers needing to post NDEF data from RFID-NFC chip to any field, on any web page, without the user having to tap into a form field or text box.
Key Differences Between Android and iOS NFC
♦ When using Android devices for reading NFC tags, Android apps have the ability to sit in the background and "listen for a tag". When a tag comes in close proximity to the Android device, the read action will transpire, regardless of what app or screen the user is currently viewing. In contrast, the NFC App used on the iPhone must trigger the process of reading the tag and remain in the foreground for the read to occur. Note: Scanfob® and idChamp® Brand RFID-NFC readers provide full features for all iOS apps, even iOS versions before iOS 11.
♦ NFC has several modes of operation; CSN/UID, reader/writer, tag emulation and peer-to-peer. Nearly all of those modes can be accessed on an Android device, depending on the application being used. iOS supports only reading NDEF type data.
♦ The Android operating system offers a special type of NDEF record called an Android Application Record (AAR) which tells the device to use a specific application for handling the NFC tag. Currently, iOS does not offer any similar feature.