Back in June 2011, Apple announced that it was going to allow third-party developers to access the NFC chips for their own apps. This would extend Apple Pay use beyond store reward and gift cards. This is good news if you’re a baseball fan, in particular. The MLB announced that the Oakland Athletics have been testing a new ticket feature that takes advantage of NFC. This would allow a user to enter the stadium by tapping the iPhone to a ticket scanner, much in the same way that you would use Apple Pay.
What exactly is an NFC chip? The technology involved is relatively simple. An NFC chip operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it’s activated by another chip, small amounts of data between the two devices can be transferred when held a few centimeters away from each other. No pairing code is necessary because it uses chips that run on very low amounts of power.
The MLB test was conducted during six games, started on September 22 following the launch of iOS 11. This is pretty big as it’s the first time that a professional sporting event has supported contactless tickets in Apple Wallet. Tap to enter doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s different than scanning a barcode on a virtual ticket, but it’s faster and less prone to errors.
What happens now? The feature which is being developed by tickets.com will be rolled out ahead of the 2018 season for 23 baseball teams. You have to use tickets.com to purchase your tickets, however. NFC has been a supported feature in iOS devices since Apple Pay first launched, but Apple previously limited its use to contactless Apple Pay payments. A new Core NFC iOS 11 framework expands the functionality of the NFC chip, introducing a new “Reader Mode” supported in the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.
What’s really cool about Reader Mode is how else you can use it. If you have a compatible app, and you’re near a real-world NFC tag your device can read the tag and open up a website or any other information needed. NFC tags are already being used in a variety of places like – museums, gardens, landmarks and much more. The reason that they are already available is that Android devices have been able to read NFC tags for a while now. But Apple’s adoption of the feature is much more limited because it requires companies to build an app with NFC support in order to read the NFC tags.
Which doesn’t really seem like it’s going to be all that useful for iPhone owners, does it? I mean outside of this MLB example, what else can or will it do? One example is – cybersecurity company WISeKey. They announced that their CapSeal smart tag will now support iPhone because of the NFC chip. CapSeal smart tags are primarily used for authentication and anti-counterfeiting on products like wine bottles. Which means you can scan and track information related to your wine purchase.
I’m not sold on the wine idea. But maybe it’s because I don’t drink that much wine, and I guess I just assume that it hasn’t been opened or tampered with? But wine aside, this definitely sounds like a good move for Apple. I am not completely sold on needing a specific app to utilize the chip, but I think the market will change. Which will then make this something you use every day.