In context: For some time now, Apple has been utilizing the iPhone’s near-field communication (NFC) technology to allow payment for goods and services anywhere that Apple Pay is accepted. This enables users to use their phone to pay rather than digging out their credit or debit cards.
Currently, the iPhone’s NFC capability is primarily used for Apple Pay transactions, but according to 9to5Mac, that could be about to change.
Sources familiar with iOS and macOS development revealed that Apple is expanding some NFC functionality to third-party companies. Currently, developers only have access to NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF).
This allows NDEF tags to be read by applications. For example, an app used to exchange contact information could use NDEF to do so. However, NDEF is somewhat limited.
"NFC is getting major improvements, including the ability for third-party developers to read any ISO7816, FeliCa or MiFare tags. Currently, only tags formatted as NDEF can be read by third-party apps."
Sources say Apple will be allowing developers access to the ISO 7816 format, which is typically used for IDs and access cards. It will also open up functionality for FeliCa and MiFare formats as well. FeliCa is a popular tap-to-pay feature used in subways and some vending machines in Japan. MiFare is a smart card standard mostly used for mass transit passes.
Keep in mind, the news is from anonymous sources and is far from official. However, if the claims hold, it could allow for a wide range of NFC practical applications.
Companies could let employees store access badges on their devices saving the cost of making expensive IDs. Ski resorts could sell passes online and allow guests to use their phones to get onto lifts. Those are just a couple use case examples.
There is no word on when developers will have access to these formats, but we could hear something during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference at San Jose's McEnery Convention Center scheduled for June 3-7 with a keynote address on opening day.