Getting Started with NFC: How to Develop New NFC-Enabled Mobile Applications

uCreate App NFC-Enabled Mobile Applications

Mobile phones are completely integrated into our everyday lives. According to the World Development Report, over 40% of the world’s population has access to the internet, with new users coming online every day. Among the poorest 20% of households, almost 7 out of 10 have a mobile phone. In fact, the poorest households are more likely to have access to a mobile device than to toilets or clean water.

As reliance on our devices grows, their functions and services improve — all thanks to the increasing availability of communication technologies and the miniaturization of their inner electronic components. Location technologies like GPS allow mobile phones to pinpoint a person’s position. Wireless communication technologies, including Wi-Fi, GPRS, and UMTS, allow you to deliver personalized content directly to a phone.

Back in 2004, near field communication (NFC) quietly entered the scene. Now, NFC is one of the most rapidly growing technologies across the globe.

Read on for an overview of exactly what NFC is and how today’s mobile app developers can make the most use of Identiv’s latest Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem: uCreate NFC.

NFC

What Is NFC?

NFC is an incredibly useful fusion technology integrating radio-frequency (RFID) technology with mobile communication devices and wireless internet infrastructure. NFC allows wireless information exchange over short distances, around 10 centimeters (4 inches) or less, with a chip embedded in a device.

The key goals of NFC technology are to:

  1. Create new value for mobile phone users
  2. Build new markets for mobile technologies
  3. Apply RFID technology to various application domains
  4. Extend applications for RFID technology to the business-to-consumer (B2C) area

How Does NFC Technology Work?

NFC technology was derived from RFID and allows users to connect to other devices, make payments, send media and files, and use NFC tags, easily the most creative use case for the technology. You can create an NFC scanner app for practically anything, making NFC app development extremely popular.

NFC technology provides a simple method of contactless communication between gadgets in close proximity. An NFC tag can share and link to information including web pages, social media, customer loyalty platforms, and more.

You can also leverage NFC to open doors secured with contactless locks and log on to computers. All of these actions have something in common: they invoke an action based on you placing your phone (or any other NFC-enabled device) near the thing you want to interact with or read.

Main Features of NFC Technology

  • Based on RFID technology at 13.56 MHz
  • Operating distance typically up to 10 cm (3.937 in)
  • Compatible with contactless RFID technologies
  • Data exchange rate up to 848 kbit/s
  • Three modes of operation: P2P, Card Emulation, and Reader/Writer
  • Complementary to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies

NFC Usage and Statistics for 2021

According to research, new NFC activations increased 71% from 2018 to 2020, while NFC interactions increased 63% over that same period. Growth in total NFC reach is even more significant: 82% during 2018 – 2020.

When looking at NFC implementation on a broader scale, 1.6 billion NFC-enabled devices are expected to reach the market by 2024, according to ABI Research. It also reports the total NFC market value will touch $47 billion by that same year.

The numbers are even larger when looking at IoT beyond NFC.

Around 20 billion IoT-enabled devices will be in use by the end of 2020, while 500 billion are estimated by 2030.

NFC App Development

Although NFC adoption beyond payments was already increasing gradually, customer demand for contactless experiences due to the pandemic quickly accelerated that growth, as per a survey by ABI Research.

According to Phil Sealy, Research Director at ABI Research: “The pandemic has created a surge in NFC usage. NFC use in payment scenarios pre-COVID-19 was high but, post-COVID-19, we predict that NFC will be extended to other use cases as consumers are showing an increasing reliance on the technology.”

The survey found 96% of users interacted with NFC technology for something other than contactless mobile payments. Over 75% of respondents use contactless payment multiple times per week or more.

Around 73% of smartphones supported NFC in 2018, an increase of 19% from 2015. According to Scientia Mobile, Apple’s adoption of NFC in iPhones drove most of the growth. Apple consistently updates iPhone NFC capabilities since the technology first appeared on iPhone 6 to enable Apple Pay. In fact, Apple Pay and Google Pay, which both leverage NFC, and other NFC payment types play a huge role in the growing awareness of NFC.

Innovative Uses of NFC Apps Today

How are brands using NFC apps right now? Here are a few top use cases:

1. In-Person Events (Art Galleries)

Famous art gallery Lévy Gorvy has added NFC and QR codes to a number of their exhibitions to extend the brand beyond the gallery walls and deliver more information to their visitors.

For instance, when the gallery launched the “Warhol Women” exhibition, NFC tags embedded in takeaway cards allowed visitors to extend their experience with the gallery after departure. Around 16% of visitors interacted with the smart experience, creating a new kind of gallery engagement people clearly want to participate in.

2. Embedded in Physical Products (Wine and Spirits)

Alcoholic beverage producer Pernod Ricard enabled 300,000 bottles of Malibu Rum with NFC tags, launching an experience allowing users to engage with games, enter competitions, and receive recipes for cocktails. Pernod Ricard built the campaign off an earlier pilot enabling 16,000 bottles.

3. Embedded in Physical Products (Consumer Products)

Henkel, a German consumer goods company, added NFC to three styling products in its Indola professional haircare brand, equating to 100,000 NFC-enabled products distributed to 35 countries. The enabled products allowed professional hairstylists to tap the product and get access to product information, instructional videos from celebrities, and a curated Instagram feed.

What Do You Need to Develop New NFC Use Cases?

If you want to program NFC tags successfully, there are specific requirements to meet. You must have the following:

  • Blank NFC Tag: This is a chip to store your data. They are affordable and readily available in online stores.
  • NFC-Compatible Device: Modern Android/iOS devices incorporate NFC technology. If you are wondering how to check whether your phone is NFC-enabled, go to Settings > Wireless and Networks > More. If your phone is enabled, you will find the option. If the option is missing, your phone is not NFC-enabled.
  • NFC Programming Application: There are various apps for writing your NFC tags, including uCreate by Identiv, NFC TagWriter by NXP, NFC Tools, and Smart NFC.

For mobile app developers, NFC brings distinctive functionality and powers previously unimagined use cases. Yet developing NFC apps can be challenging, especially if you are just starting out.

Enter our uCreate NFC ecosystem.

uCreate NFC

What Is uCreate NFC?

The uCreate NFC ecosystem is a platform supporting mobile application developers in creating NFC solutions and delivering them to a broader audience. Designed for programmers familiar with app development but new to NFC coding, uCreate provides the source code supporting the first steps into NFC mobile app development.

How uCreate Supports NFC App Developers

uCreate NFC provides easy access and support for developers who want to learn more about NFC mobile app coding. The all-in-one ecosystem gives developers the tools to learn how to create and test their own NFC experiences with a curated kit of NFC tags, software development kit (SDK), and mobile app.

According to Identiv COO Dr. Manfred Mueller:

It is our mission to make NFC technologies more accessible to a broader range of developers, many of whom have limited or no experience with this type of technology. uCreate NFC removes the barriers associated with NFC app development by connecting developers with NFC experts. Developers can come up with new ideas and be empowered to dream up new use cases and applications.

Our uCreate NFC SDK provides source code showing step-by-step how to integrate NFC technology into mobile apps. This intuitive SDK eases complexities for developers with limited NFC expertise seeking a simple way to test new application ideas.

The uCreate NFC App gives developers a comprehensive summary of all functions included in the SDK and previews what is possible with the SDK source code. The app is available for iOS and Android.

What Does the uCreate NFC Kit Include?

The uCreate NFC Tag Kit includes a collection of tags with NFC Forum Type 2, 4, and 5 integrated circuits (ICs) and ICODE tag ICs, compatible with Android and Apple iOS 11, 12, 13, and 14 devices.

  • NFC Forum Type 2 Tag Specification: Defines how an NFC-enabled device in Reader/Writer Mode detects, reads, and writes an NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) Message on an NFC Forum Type 2 Tag; the communication with this NFC Forum Tag type is based on NFC-A Technology
  • NFC Forum Type 4 Tag Specification: Defines how an NFC-enabled device in Reader/Writer Mode detects, reads, and writes an NDEF Message on an NFC Forum Type 4 Tag; the communication with this NFC Forum Tag type is based on the ISO Data Exchange Protocol (ISO-DEP) which is fully compatible with the ISO/IEC 14443 standard series; this protocol is either based on NFC-A or NFC-B technology
  • NFC Forum Type 5 Tag Specification: Defines how an NFC-enabled device in Reader/Writer Mode detects, reads, and writes an NDEF Message on an NFC Forum Type 5 Tag; the communication with this NFC Forum Tag type is based on NFC-V technology

Our collection of high-performance NFC tags power use cases including consumer electronics, smart home, transit, supply chain management, fashion, retail, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, gaming, toys, and more.

uCreate NFC provides mobile application developers with easy-to-use tools to help leverage and promote the growing interest in NFC technology across a wide array of markets. These development tools augment Identiv’s comprehensive line of NFC offerings, including a variety of customizable NFC tags, high-performance NFC readers, and modules.

Get Your Own NFC App in the Game

In the future, NFC and embedded apps will replace several existing technology platforms. Imagine your phone, your keys, your car, and even your pet having access to an NFC-enabled device. Now is the time for your app to get in the game.

This is where uCreate NFC can help. It is a platform enabling creative, innovative uses for NFC reaching far beyond existing applications. The uCreate NFC Tag Kit is available for purchase now at shop.identiv.com. For more information on Identiv’s complete RFID, NFC, and contactless portfolio, call +1 888.809.8880 or contact transponder_sales@identiv.com.

Identiv | uCreate NFC