Apple to let iPhone owners use NFC to read all types of contactless card — except for payments cards

Apple's Lawrence Chung shows off iPhone's NFC tag writing capabilities at WWDC 19 with the help of a large fish
THROWBACK: Apple’s Lawrence Chung shows off the iPhone’s new NFC tag writing capabilities at WWDC 19 with the help of a large fish

iPhone users will soon be able to read a full array of ISO 7816 contactless smartcards and tags, including passports, transit and access cards, Apple has revealed. “However, for the time being, reading payment cards will not be supported.”

Gordon Scott from the Apple NFC Software team revealed the information during a WWDC 19 session on the company’s latest Core NFC framework enhancements.

Apple announced an array of enhancements to its Core NFC framework last week. They include NFC tag writing, support for Mifare, FeliCa, ISO 7816 contactless cards and tags and ISO 15693 (NFC Forum Type 5) vicinity cards and tags. Integration with Siri Shortcuts for single tap, multi-step automated workflows was also announced.

“All of this is available on iPhone 7 and later phones,” Scott said during the session.

An app will be required to write to tags and also to read any of the new types of cards and tags that iOS 13’s Core NFC framework will support, Scott also revealed.

“The background tag scanning feature still requires NDEF formatted tags and is read-only,” he said.

A video recording of the session, including a demo of the new iPhone tag reading and writing capabilities, plus sample code to download, is available on Apple’s website.