Apple Drops Requirement to Have App Open for Tag Reading

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple has relaxed its approach to NFC tag reading in its new iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr models, removing the requirement to have a reader application open in order to use a tag. It calls the feature Background Tag Reading, and it offers essentially the same functionality that Android devices have had for years.  

A previous version of Core NFC, released with iOS 11 last year, required users to have a tag reader app open and running in the foreground in order to read tags, and an additional step required users to press a button on the screen or take other action to tell the Apple device to act on the tag payload, such as displaying content from a URL. The new implementation appears to still require that second step. When the iPhone reads an NFC tag, a pop-up from the Notification Center will appear on the iPhone screen, prompting the user to “Open in NFCTagReader,” said Apple. The user has to actually tap the notification in order to launch the relevant application.

That approach let Apple retain control over how iOS interacted with the tag ecosystem. The requirement to use an application just to read tags meant that developers and their apps would have to get approval from Apple before any tag-reading app could be introduced. 

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