iOS 8 Cripples NFC

You know, I’d like to say I’m not the type to say “I was right” but I think I may be. And in this case, I’ve got to say it.


The big news for iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 was the inclusion of NFC. Sure, there was also the thing about the bigger screen, but I don’t think in this day and age, that’s anything to brag about. That’s just to be expected, and frankly, I’m surprised it took Apple so long to do it. However, the inclusion of NFC is something that is a bit surprising. Not because it is new tech, it isn’t. And it’s far from being “the new thing” in cell phones, it’s been around for years. And of course, Apple was last to the table to bring a helping of NFC. So what was the surprise?

As we’ve pointed out before, Apple doesn’t like to use standardized technology. No USB cables for charging, if you want to stream something from your phone to your television, you need to buy Apple TV. If you want to buy music or a movie, you need to use iTunes. You see, Apple doesn’t play well with others (unless those others have paid Apple for licensing of course) and there is a very good reason for this. Apple holds tight the gate to their closed garden for a very specific reason. That reason is income. This is a business plan based solely on the dollars they can make. No mistake about it, this is not about innovation, not about their technology being better, it is simply about the fact that if they use proprietary cables, connections, music stores, etc., they can charge for it.

And NFC is standardized tech. All the phone makers use it. You can jump on Amazon and buy NFC smart tags. There are accessories such as Blue Tooth speakers which will pair with your phone through NFC. And of course, payment terminals at so many retailers. All using NFC. All using standard tech.

Apple has ignored NFC for some time now. Almost seems as if they have purposely ignored it. I had so many arguments with so many Apple users saying NFC was a fad and they’d never use it. Those same users were so excited in the last few months at the prospect of getting NFC.  Apple created iBeacon, which those users would tell me did the same thing as NFC. It doesn’t. And it tracks you, which NFC doesn’t.

When we heard iPhone was getting NFC, and after the initial shock wore off, and after I thought it through for a bit, I realized that there was no way Apple would allow NFC to function as we are used to NFC functioning. We use NFC for so many things. I personally use it nearly everyday between my two phones. I have a Z10, and a Q5. Somehow, the Q5 which was supposed to be my spare phone, for testing and playing around, has become my primary phone now. I guess I’m just a physical keyboard type of guy. That’s the phone I always reach for. And yet, the screen size just doesn’t do it for me. So daily, I’ll be surfing the web, or get sent a video, or any number of things, that I’ll want to see on the bigger screen. It’s so much easier to send via NFC then to e-mail to myself. I also have all my media on my Z10, and yet my Q5 is what is typically paired to the Blue Tooth in my car, so when I want a song on my Q, I simply NFC it from my Z. And therein lies the problem.

Strange, this does so much on other phones.
Strange, this does so much on other phones.

How could Apple allow this? If you could easily transfer files between devices, how could Apple make money off of it? They can’t. And it got me to thinking about another standard tech that Apple has included. Blue Tooth. Again, we can easily transfer files among our devices using Blue Tooth. But you can’t on an iPhone. On an iPhone, Blue Tooth is used for audio. If you have an iPhone, and a Windows computer, you can’t just send files back and forth between them. It was one of the things that bugged me so much about my iPods. If you go in to a store that has a photo kiosk, you will watch Android users, BlackBerry users, pre-paid feature phone users, approach the kiosk, and Blue Tooth their photos to the kiosk for printing. Not iPhone users. iPhones don’t work that way. You need to download an app from iTunes for that retailer, which will send your photos to them VIA E-MAIL.

And I made a guess. I guessed that NFC would be crippled on iOS, just as they have crippled Blue Tooth. Did I mention I was right?

Tap here, unless you have an iPhone
Tap here, unless you have an iPhone

It’s now been confirmed that the NFC chip in the iPhone 6 has been restricted to ApplePay only. Yes, you read that right. So many users, excited to finally have NFC on their iPhones, won’t be able to use it for anything except ApplePay. No transferring files. No tapping with your neighbor to transfer your contact info. No tapping to your non-iOS tablet to share a webpage you’re looking at. None of those conveniences that all of us on other platforms have been enjoying all along. No, it will only allow you to pay for things. If you get ApplePay, and if you’re at a retailer that accepts it.

Under normal circumstances, if a product has NFC enabled, then it can be used for all sorts of things, such as pairing with other devices like speakers and NFC tags for quick launching applications etc. But, with the iPhone 6, Apple has restricted the NFC chip to operate only with ApplePay, their new contactless payment system.

Apple users are hopeful though. They seem to think that because the Apple Watch will also sport NFC, that for some reason Apple will open it up. And here’s my prediction: Those users are wrong. I predict that the watch will have some sort of NFC compatibility with the iPhone, and as we saw in their announcement, ApplePay. And I don’t think we shall see anything else, unless of course Apple can make money off of it. Perhaps Apple will produce a Beats BlueTooth speaker that will use NFC to pair with an iPhone. Perhaps Apple will ‘innovate’ and ‘invent’ NFC tags that will only work with iPhones, and will be the only NFC tags iPhone can read? But Apple users better prepare themselves. Just because Apple has finally decided to include standard tech on their devices, a few years too late, don’t expect to get standard use out if.





BlackBerry Elite Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs and UTB Geek. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.

  • nnik

    I’m tired….. Apple sucks, that’s all I got

  • G-bone

    Amazing! I hadn’t put any thought into it beyond assuming that Apple would find a way to claim that they invented NFC but as soon as I started reading, I went, “of course!”. Knew where you were going and knew you were right.
    The sad part is Sheeple fall for this: they think it’s normal!
    Glad to be BlackBerry. ;)


  • Wayno

    Oh dear, when will people wake up???
    Apple is shite!

  • Trev

    locco_smiley_38 :O =))

    Hahaha!! They finally put a functional and useful bit of hardware into an iPhone that is non-proprietary and useful with other non-Apple devices, then remove its core functionality and limit its use!! That is ludicrous! Seriously, who came up with that bright idea?

    Now, any shop that already has NFC payments set up will be pressured to also install a set up for Apple Pay, which would of course limit their NFC payment customer base to iPhone 6 users only, even though Android (which most new Android devices have NFC anyway) currently has the largest market share, BlackBerry devices have had NFC since at least the 9900 days, and even Windows Phones have NFC. Yeah, I don’t think there will be too many ApplePay stations set up in stores.

    Ludicrous. locco_smiley_8

  • dreamgreed

    One of the things I got from your article is you badly need a BB Passport… haha xD
    Otherwise I had the exact same though as you on the NFC.

    • Brad

      I thought I would wait for AT&T, since I bought both my phones outright, I could get one on contract, but I’m starting to think I’m not going to be able to wait for them! *angry*

      • dreamgreed

        If you are waiting you better get the white one! Otherwise there’s no excuse not to get the black one now! XD I love my passport!

        • Brad

          I know there’s several that will disagree with me, but BlackBerries must be black! :P

          • dreamgreed

            I completely agree with you! However this is the first white phone that I am simply dazzled by!

  • Gnomesane

    Yup, just like Apple Continuity. Will work great amongst your Apple devices but nowhere else. Definitely not for me.

  • web99

    Great write up Brad. Yet another example of Apple’s “walled garden” aporoach and lack of freedom they provide with technology readily available on other platforms. It is also one of the reasons for their global decline in market-share among smartphone manufacturers.

  • Robert

    Apple innovative NFC = #NotFullyCompatible.

  • Azensun

    ^^What Robert said!!

    So first, Apple proclaims they’ve “introduced” something “new and innovative.” Then, they cripple it! Nice to see they’re consistent with their modus operandi. I wonder what the next proclamation will be if and when they un-cripple it?