Apple updates Core NFC to allow NFC tags to be read without opening an app

NFC Tag reading: How it works
TAP AND GO: Apple’s Core NFC update means tags in billboards, bus shelters and stores are now accessible to iPhone users

Apple’s new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will be able to take advantage of an update to the company’s Core NFC specification to read NFC tags without the user first having to open an app, Apple has revealed.

“We have got a new feature for Core NFC this year that will not only enhance the NFC experience, but also greatly simplify the process of handling NFC tags within your applications,” Lawrence Chung from Apple’s NFC team explains in a video presentation.

“With the new Background Tag Reading feature, the iPhone is able to automatically read NFC tags and deliver them to the appropriate apps. The mechanism is able to perform the necessary app launch or bringing the application to the foreground state.”

Chung then explains Apple’s NFC tag data requirements, the expected user experience and when background reading is supported. He also provides some example code snippets “to get you started.”

Background Tag Reading can also use URL data found in NDEF records in NFC tags to open websites; start a phonecall, email or SMS; set up a HomeKit accessory and more, he explains.

The full six minute ‘What’s New in Core NFC’ presentation is available to view on Apple’s developer site here.