Near-field communication (NFC) enables devices within a few centimeters of each other to exchange information wirelessly.

iOS apps running on supported devices can use NFC scanning to read data from electronic tags attached to real-world objects. For example, a user can scan a toy to connect it with a video game, a shopper can scan an in-store sign to access coupons, or a retail employee can scan products to track inventory.

In-app tag reading

An app can enable single- or multiple-object scanning when the app is active, and display a scanning sheet whenever the user is expected to scan something.

Image of a scanning sheet near the bottom edge of the device screen, which displays the text Ready to Scan and offers a Cancel button.

Don't encourage people to make contact with physical objects. To scan a tag, an iOS device must simply be within close proximity of the tag. It doesn't need to actually touch the tag. Use terms like scan and hold near instead of tap and touch when asking people to scan objects.

Use approachable terminology. Near-field communication may be unfamiliar to some people. To make it approachable, avoid referring to technical, developer-oriented terms like NFC, Core NFC, Near-field communication, and tag. Instead, use friendly, conversational terms that most people will understand.

Use Don't use
Scan the [object name]. Scan the NFC tag.
Hold your iPhone near the [object name] to learn more about it. To use NFC scanning, tap your phone to the [object].

Provide succinct instructional text for the scanning sheet. Provide a complete sentence, in sentence case, with ending punctuation. Identify the object to scan, and revise the text appropriately for subsequent scans. Keep the text short to avoid truncation.

First scan Subsequent scans
Hold your iPhone near the [object name] to learn more about it. Now hold your iPhone near another [object name].

Background tag reading

Background tag reading lets people scan tags quickly any time, without needing to first open your app and initiate scanning. On devices that support background tag reading, the system automatically looks for nearby compatible tags whenever the screen is illuminated. After detecting and matching a tag with an app, the system shows a notification that the user can tap to send the tag data to the app for processing. Note that background reading is disabled when an NFC scanning sheet is visible, Wallet or Apple Pay are in use, cameras are in use, the device is in airplane mode, and the device is locked after a restart.

Image of a notification banner at the top of the device screen that gives users an opportunity to open a specific app to process the tag data that was scanned in the background.

Support both background and in-app tag reading. Your app must still provide an in-app way to scan tags, for people with devices that don't support background tag reading.