The state of NFC

Android phones have for a long time supported reading NFC tags to launch a browser to the site contained in the tag, and that’s been used successfully with CliqTags sites in the past. Also tags with text have been supported.

With iPhone 7 and iOS 11 there was also support for reading NFC, but that required a custom app. There are though several such apps to choose from, emulating the behavior of Android.

Now with iPhone XS/XR and iOS 13 it’s possible to use NFC without need for any special app. Actually the features should be similar to what has been available via Android.

That way NFC is becoming a very viable solution for accessing information, alone or in combination with QR codes or beacons.

It’s likely that QR codes, NFC tags and beacons will all be used to access information at specific locations. A benefit of QR codes and NFC tags is that they require close proximity and can’t ”sneak up on you” like beacons can do: you have to do something to access information.

Even so, I believe Eddystone-URL has a future as a complement, and in cases where we are talking a context rather than an exact position. E.g. you could provide experiences along a walked path without the user doing anything.

Your scenario should dictate what solution to use, and combinations could make sense to enable broader use:

  • QR codes are ideal for anything printed or displayed, even a few meters away
  • NFC tags are ideal for things that should be tapped in close proximity
  • Beacons are ideal for covering areas and not requiring user intervention

Note that if your NFC tags only contain an identifier you’ll still need a custom app to interpret them. Android and iOS will not do that for you.

CliqTags wrapper app template now supports NFC tags (Text and URL) as well as barcodes and dictation.

References