What does the latest iOS 14 update mean for Apple and NFC?
Apple's iOS 14 has arrived, so what does that mean for Near Field Communication (NFC)? The most exciting news is that iOS 14 effectively makes the iPhone's NFC support complete, bringing it into line with Android.
iOS 14 gives the iPhone a native tag reader. With the introduction of iOS 11, users of the iPhones 7, 8 and X could use NFC for payments and read NFC Tags with an NFC app. But now, with the built-in NFC Tag reader enabled by iOS 14, there is no need for a dedicated NFC app, iPhone users just need to swipe up for the Control Centre at the bottom of the display and open the NFC Tag reader capability by clicking on the 'NFC Icon'.
This means that now every Apple and Android smartphone which possesses NFC compatibility can read NFC Tags without needing to use an app. Every iPhone from the iPhone 7 onwards can now read NFC Tags with no additional requirements.
The introduction of App Clips
Apple's iOS 14 update will include support for App Clips. This lets retailers and brands use NFC Tags to offer quick access to mini apps. Essentially, App Clips allows iPhone users to download a mini app so that they can access information quickly, without having to download a full version of the app. One example of how App Clips can be used is with Apple Pay, the Contactless payment app. Consumers can now pay for everyday items using Apple Pay and App Clips. This method offers quick access to sign in and pay via a mini app which is supported by App Clips, negating the need to download an app, sign up separately for it, or enter any card details.
The need for speed
Apple has explained that convenience for the end-user is one of the key benefits which iOS and App Clips will afford: “App Clips are a great way for users to quickly access and experience what your app has to offer. An App Clip is a small part of your app that’s discoverable at the moment it’s needed. App Clips are fast and lightweight so a user can open them quickly."
“Whether they’re ordering take-out from a restaurant, renting a scooter, or setting up a new connected appliance for the first time, users will be able to start and finish an experience from your app in seconds. And when they’re done, you can offer the opportunity to download your full app from the App Store.”
For retailers, merchants and brands, being able to offer convenience and speed to the consumer is an opportunity to improve the quality of NFC engagement. App Clips only requires an iPhone user to hold, tap and click, while positioning their iPhone over an NFC Tag. Once the App Clip has opened at the bottom half of the display - the process takes seconds. After tapping and opening the App Clip, you select how you would like to use the App Clip - from making a payment to downloading information.
Refining the art
Apple's iOS update has done more than simply make NFC more accessible for users of iPhones. It has taken engaging via NFC to a new level for consumers, breaking down another barrier to the technology. Brands can now market to a larger audience, offering speed and convenience which was previously unattainable. In an age when there seems to be an 'app for everything', iOS 14 and App Clips has come up trumps.