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Sep 11, 2018 21 tweets 7 min read
Here is our prediction for how Apple will support reading NFC tags in iOS 12. This theory was developed after much research of publicly available information. Please follow along and ask any questions.

#apple #iOS12 #NFC #ConnectedThings
If you haven't been following, Apple added an NFC controller to the iPhone 7 to enable Apple Pay (contactless payments). It wasn't until iOS 11 that support for reading NFC tags was added. That was a huge deal for the NFC industry.…
However there are some significant limitations in iOS 11 for NFC tags. The most significant of which is that (1) a 3rd party app is required and (2) the user experience requires an explicit user interaction to read NFC tags. More in link here...…
All of this results in the user experience of NFC on iOS 11 is not as good as on Android (since 2011). So the big question is, what is in store for iOS 12? Apple's big event is this Wednesday. They will announce a bunch of new iPhones that are "revolutionary", but what about NFC?
Back in June, Apple held their developer conference (WWDC) for iOS 12. This is the time that they would announce changes to iOS. There was only a single change to iOS for NFC; the addition of ndefMessagePayload to NSUserActivity. With no docs..…
NSUserActivity is how iOS passes data from the OS to apps and between apps. Very similar to Android's intent system. Notice that ndefMessagePayload is readonly? That means an app can not set it, only the OS can. So what will set this property?
Back in March 2017, Apple acquired the Workflow app. This is a great app that is essentially an IFTTT app that allows you to build workflow actions on your phone triggered by events. Since then, Workflow has not published a new release.…
In iOS 12, the Workflow app is being rebuilt into the Apple Shortcuts app. This is an Apple app, like Camera and Safai (not a 3rd party app). It is a streamlined "Appleified" version of the Worflow app for the general public.…
Can you guess how the Shortcuts apps communicates data between the OS and apps? That's right folks, NSUserActivity. The same class that has an addition of an NDEF payload in iOS 12.…
Our prediction is that the Apple Shortcuts app will allow an NDEF message, read from an NFC tag to be passed from the OS to an app for subsequent handling. This is the basis of fixing the issues for reading NFC tags in iOS 12, but not all...
There are several questions, whose answer will fundamentally effect the user experience of reading NFC tags with iOS 12. First, will the Shortcuts app be installed by default, or will it be an extra manual download. Having to install any app, from Apple or not is a bad UX for NFC
With Shortcuts, apps can register a workflow to be run. Will the Safari app register a workflow for NFC? What is needed is "ndef with url? yes, open in safari". The QR version of this exists in Workflow. Go try it..

If not Safari, will Chrome? Nothing stopping other browsers.
What will trigger the NFC tag to be read? In iOS 11 its a button press which is terrible. Will you be able to tell Siri to read an NFC tag? You can with QR right now. Again, try it out... This is what we expect, and is much different than Android.
So in a perfect world, the Shortcuts app will be installed by default with iOS 12 and have a built in workflow for ndef urls that is trigged by Siri or in a *really* perfect world, but just touching the phone to an NFC tag,
There are some items in our iOS 12 NFC wishlist that we do not see how they can be possible... Writing NFC tags for sure, as there is no new code for this in Core NFC.
The subtle but important limitation is that NFCNDEFMessage was added to NSUserActivity, *not* NFCTag. This means that apps will *not* have the ability to read the NFC chip's UID.…
If an app can not read the UID, then most *normal* NFC tags can not self-authenticate; meaning that from the app's perspective they can be cloned so no anti-counterfeiting use cases with iOS. There are fancy NFC chips from NXP that have workarounds, so all hope is not lost.
For most in the NFC industry, having the iPhone not have a horrible user experience to read NFC tags is enough to start popping bottles of 🍾. We'll worry about the UID later.
That's it, that's our theory. Let us know what you think!!
@limneos Thoughts on this? You know a thing or two about NFC on iOS. ;)
Nothing explicit about the Shortcuts app or #nfc in the #AppleEvent. Lots of talk and excitement online about it. Might just have to wait to download it.

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