NFC – A Commodity of Apple’s

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that makes use of interacting electromagnetic radio fields. It has been widely adopted by the public transportation sector, for applications such as the ORCA card in Seattle metro, the SmartTrip card in Washington DC metro, Oyster card in London’s tube, Leap card in Ireland and NFC coin in the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit.

Most of the Android phones have been NFC enabled since years ago. While Apple was busy filing and receiving NFC patents, the NFC ecosystem was anxiously waiting for Apple to adopt NFC in the last 5 years. With Apple’s endorsement, NFC’s adoption rate would have been much better.

In 2014, Apple finally provided an NFC solution for its mobile wallet with the release of Apple Pay for iPhone6/6+. It is very encouraging for the NFC ecosystem. However, other than Apple Pay, all other NFC functionalities have not been activated. Yes. I upgraded my iPhone to leverage Apple Pay at the time.

Three days ago, when people lined up in front of the Apple store to get iPhone8, I purchased a used iPhone 7.

Why? Apple adopted the NFC reader operation with iOS 11; only iPhone 7 and above can access the functionality. I was happy to get a discounted iPhone7, downloaded the gototabs app and was able to read an NFC tag successfully. That’s good, I suppose. At the same time, it’s a disappointing user experience.

I created that NFC tag four years ago to demonstrate Android NFC reader/writer operation. When I enabled NFC on an Android phone, I could tap and read the tag without any app. Using an app to read the same tag is definitely less an experience but the offer is significant since it enables 78+Million iPhone7 users to read NFC tags. Now it’s time to leverage NFC tags!

Obviously, NFC becomes a commodity that requires Apple’s customers to upgrade their iPhone to leverage each new offer. Would I have to upgrade my iPhone again when Apple enables NFC writer operation?

Note – This blog was published in linkedin in September 25, 2017