Apple will open up iPhone’s NFC tech for Brexit app

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NFC tech hasn't previously been opened up to developers.
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Apple has reportedly agreed to open up its NFC capabilities on the iPhone for a U.K. government app. This Brexit app will help EU citizens apply for residency in the U.K. after it leaves the European Union.

The EU Exit app allows users to scan the chip inside their passports with their smartphone’s NFC reader. While this has been possible to do on Android phones, Apple has not previously allowed developer access to its NFC reading tech.

The U.K. government’s efforts to work with Apple on this issue have been going on for some time. For much of this time, Apple seemingly resisted. An article published by the BBC late last year noted that:

“The U.S. tech giant has so far declined to do so, despite representations from UK government ministers, including a trip to the firm’s Silicon Valley HQ by Home Secretary Sajid Javid. It is not a technical problem. Apple devices have been fitted with Near Field Communication chips, as they are known, since 2014. But the company has mostly limited use of the chip to Apple Pay transactions, for security and commercial reasons. There was speculation on tech blogs that Apple would unlock the chip reader to third party apps when it rolled out its latest operating system, 12.1, a process currently under way. But Apple has confirmed to the BBC that those rumours were not true and it has not been unlocked.”

Changing its mind

It’s not clear exactly why Apple changed its stance on this issue — and whether it might consider opening up its NFC reading tech more broadly to developers.

However, it’s unlikely that the EU Exit app will be made available before the end of this year. Depending on what happens with the continued Brexit negotiations, that could mean that the U.K. crashes out before the app is approved.

The EU Exit app is a core part of the government’s registration system, covering the approximately 3.5 million EU citizens currently living in the United Kingdom.

Source: NFC World