How to Write an NFC Tag with an iPhone

It’s exciting news that Apple has enabled iPhone 7 and newer to write to NFC tags with the release of iOS 13 on September 19, 2019.

Here is some background to explain why this is exciting for the NFC world. Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology that enables wireless data transfer in close proximity. The first NFC-enabled mobile phone was released in 2006 by Nokia and the first Android NFC-enabled phone was released in 2010. Shortly after that, we could use Android phone to read/write NFC tags.

NFC tags are passive devices used to communicate with active NFC devices. At the heart of every NFC tag is an NFC chip. It contains a small memory storage chip and a radio chip attached to an antenna. It does not require a power source and can be powered up by an NFC device through a magnetic field.

Apple’s NFC adoption has been slower than the anticipation of the NFC ecosystem.

  • In 2014, NFC was adopted for the Apple’s mobile payment (Apple Pay) for iPhone 6
  • In 2017, iOS 11 enabled iPhone 7 and newer to read NFC tags through an app.
  • In 2018, iPhone Xs and XR were enabled to read NFC tags natively.
  • In 2019, iOS 13 enables iPhone 7 and newer for writing NFC tags through an app.

The fact that iPhone users can write to NFC tags will significantly move the NFC ecosystem forward. For example, Germany will soon be using Apple-approved NFC ID documents and letting German citizens use their phones as their ID cards.

How to write an NFC tag with an iPhone

1.     Choose a standard NDEF formatted tag. [1]

2.     Download an NFC writer app; I use both NXP’s TagWriter and Simply NFC

3.     Using an app to write a URL to a tag (the easiest test)

a)     I placed a NFC tag on top of the two mobile phones image on my book cover

NFCtag1

b)     I created a URL with the TagWriter app and saved it in my dataset of the app. Note – I also was able to copy a tag content and write to a new tag [2].

dataset

c)     I tapped my phone to the tag.

NFCtag2

d) TagWriter showed Write successfully

NFCtag3

 

4.    Validate the URL written

a) I tapped the tag with Simply NFC app

NFCtag4

b) Simply NFC showed the URL on the top of the screen

NFCtag5

c) I touched the URL on the app and it takes me to my Amazon book listing

NFCtag6

5.    iPhone Xs, XR or newer can read the tag directly without an app to validate the URL on the tag.

[1]: The NFC tags I use are https://amzn.to/2BWRj2Y & https://bit.ly/2C7i8BL

[2]: The copied URL is saved in My Datasets on the TagWriter and tap the link for a second, you will see options Copy

NFCtagcopy