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NFC on iPhone is Coming & Why it Matters for Accessible Wayfinding

WayAround sign and woman using NFC on iphone to access WayAround app on screen

This week, Apple announced that iOS 11 will begin supporting a reader for Near Field Communication or NFC on iPhone 7. The new functionality is currently in beta testing. Apple expects it to be available this fall, according to NFCWorld.

Why did this news make everyone at WayAround jump for joy?

NFC technology is the foundation of our smart signage. It is cost-effective, easy to update, and provides a good user experience for people with visual impairments. Those qualities are great for businesses that want to install WayAround, but NFC has posed a challenge for our app. The WayAround app works with NFC-equipped Andriod devices. Until now, iPhones wouldn’t read the NFC chips embedded in our smart signage. NFC readers have been available in iPhones for several years, but developers have not been able to access them.

Most people who are blind use iPhones, so having an option to read NFC on an iPhone is essential to making WayAround work naturally for people with vision impairment. We’ve been developing alternative options for supporting NFC on iPhone, but NFC reading capabilities native to iOS is the ideal solution. WayAround is now significantly closer to launching!

Other Accessibility Announcements from Apple

Apple made several other announcements about improved accessibility features in the next iOS, including expanded braille editing and a redesign of the inverted colors feature. Our web accessibility consultant Colleen Connors explains how she uses inverted colors.

Blind Bargains gives a good high-level overview of new accessibility features Apple announced this week.

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