Will Apple iOS ever provide SDK access to their built-in NFC reader?

Even with the new iOS version in the works, most insiders are speculating that Apple will continue to limit their use of NFC technology to Apple Pay. 

Since July of 2012, some Android smartphone and tablet manufacturers have provided consumers the use of their built-in NFC reader for multiple applications.  The same not cannot be said concerning Apple’s iOS mobile devices.  iOS devices contain the same NFC technology that Android has, however, Apple has not opened up the technology to third party developers whatsoever.  Now in 2016, Apple is preparing the release of new iPhone models in addition to an updated iOS. Even with this new version in the works, most insiders are speculating that Apple will continue to limit their use of NFC technology to Apple Pay.  The NFC reader isn’t the only limitation to Apple’s iOS capabilities that is being forecasted.  Rumors have been circulating that the new iPhone 7 will no longer include a 3.5 mm auxiliary jack – rendering millions of headphones and other 3rd party devices that rely on that port virtually useless.

Is There A Way to Still Use NFC on iOS?

The simple answer is yes. Through the use of Bluetooth communication, your Apple device can be connected with an external RFID reader to capture and input card or tag data in the form of keystroke emulation. NFC use cases far exceed payment processing. They can range from attendance tracking to promotional marketing to security and numerous others, therefore having a workaround to be able to utilize this technology is key.  Salt Lake City Comic Con successfully used the Scanfob® BB2e NFC Reader along with iPad Minis to check in attendees at its annual event. Read more about Salt Lake City Comic Con’s use case HERE.

And then there was BLE…

Most modern iOS devices (iPhone 4s and newer, iPad 3 and newer) feature the use of BLE (aka Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth Smart).  BLE is touted as being more reliable, having a faster connection time, and offering a smoother end user experience. One example of this is that your scanner can be connected directly inside your iOS application.  See an example of this connection in the video below.  Using a BLE device such as the Scanfob® BB2e RFID Reader along with an app that is BLE supported like the Cloud-In-Hand® Mobile application suite, iOS users can now enjoy the benefits of tailored data input on their iPhones and iPads. Furthermore, they can use the SDK or API included with the purchase of BLE devices like the Scanfob® BB2e RFID Reader to develop their own proprietary iOS application and circumvent the need for the built-in NFC technology featured on Android devices.