New iPhones can conduct certain NFC transactions even when iOS is not running

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in iPhone
The iPhone XS and XS Max, which ship this week, as well as the forthcoming iPhone XR support certain NFC card transactions even when iOS is not running and the host device is powered because it needs to be charged.

Express cards support


Buried in Apple's released technical specs for the new iPhone XS and XR lines, due to arrive Sept. 21 and Oct. 26, respectively, is a first for the devices: Express Card with power reserve. The feature allows new iPhones to conduct supported NFC transactions without the assistance of iOS.

The specs for the iPhone XS list "Express Cards with power reserve" under all models. Apple's recently published iOS security guide update provides more detail.

"If iOS isn't running because iPhone needs to be charged, there may still be enough power in the battery to support Express Card transactions. Supported iPhone devices automatically support this feature with a transit card designated as the Express Transit card [and] student ID cards with Express Mode turned on."

In addition, the security guide notes that in iOS 12, pressing the side button will show text indicating both the low battery icon and text showing that Express Cards may be used.

"The NFC controller performs express card transactions under the same conditions as when iOS is running, except that transactions are indicated with only haptic notification," the paper continues.

Notably, users are only able to access power reserve functionality under low power conditions, meaning the feature is unavailable following a standard hardware shutdown.

Apple, which originally listed the "Express Cards with power reserve" as available in a few countries, has now added that language to its spec pages worldwide. It is now known, according to a report by AtaDistance, that Apple Pay Express Transit Cards will work with power reserve in Japan and China, although it's unclear if they will work elsewhere. Apple added global FeliCa support to Apple Pay a year ago with the iPhone 8, iPhone X and the Apple Watch Series 3.

The new capability is sure to be a boon for holders of transit cards and student IDs issued by participating educational institutions. Express Cards with power reserve brings a key physical NFC card feature -- no power operation -- to iPhone, meaning users no longer have to worry about keeping their device powered up to catch a ride, enter student housing or perform other NFC-based transactions.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,388member
    This is great. Not just from the forgettable college student’s viewpoint, but if they lose their iPhone campus police should be able scan it to find the owner by their student ID.

    I wonder how quickly this will be adopted.

    I wonder if this low-power more could also work for the Apple Watch when all it shows you when you press the button is the time and a charge symbol if the power goes out.
    edited September 2018 sweetheart777lostkiwi
  • Reply 2 of 11
    To all of those Apple Haters who claim Apple is motivated only by profit:
       HOW MUCH WILL APPLE PROFIT FROM THIS ONE?

    No, Apple derives its profit from great products that not only "just work" but that make people's lives better.   They always have and, hopefully, always will.
    lostkiwilolliver
  • Reply 3 of 11
    To all of those Apple Haters who claim Apple is motivated only by profit:
       HOW MUCH WILL APPLE PROFIT FROM THIS ONE?

    No, Apple derives its profit from great products that not only "just work" but that make people's lives better.   They always have and, hopefully, always will.
    This is a standard feature of new NFC chips.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    peteopeteo Posts: 370member
    "meaning users no longer have to worry about keeping their device powered up to catch a ride, enter student housing or perform other NFC-based transactions."\\

    Umm no: 
    "Notably, users are only able to access power reserve functionality under low power conditions, meaning the feature is unavailable following a standard hardware shutdown. "

    The phone still needs to have power. IE it won't work when the phone is not on, or when it's battery is completely depleted.  This is not like a non powered NFC card.


    edited September 2018
  • Reply 5 of 11
    peteo said:
    "meaning users no longer have to worry about keeping their device powered up to catch a ride, enter student housing or perform other NFC-based transactions."\\

    Umm no: "Notably, users are only able to access power reserve functionality under low power conditions, meaning the feature is unavailable following a standard hardware shutdown. "

    The phone still needs to have power. IE it won't work when the phone is not on, or when it's battery is completely depleted.  This is not like a non powered NFC card.


    It sounds like that last part isn't true.  When one's phone is "completely depleted" so that it has shut down, it may still have enough power to serve as a smart card.
    lolliver
  • Reply 6 of 11
    To all of those Apple Haters who claim Apple is motivated only by profit:
       HOW MUCH WILL APPLE PROFIT FROM THIS ONE?

    No, Apple derives its profit from great products that not only "just work" but that make people's lives better.   They always have and, hopefully, always will.
    Apple, like any other company, is motivated by profit. Heck... they can make a brand new iPhone with what they charge to fix a broken screen. You think you would save money if you purchased AppleCare, but in reality you don’t because of the ridiculous down payment. That’s another phone they can make from that transaction.

    And before you call me an Apple Hater:


  • Reply 7 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,388member
    aylk said:
    To all of those Apple Haters who claim Apple is motivated only by profit:
       HOW MUCH WILL APPLE PROFIT FROM THIS ONE?

    No, Apple derives its profit from great products that not only "just work" but that make people's lives better.   They always have and, hopefully, always will.
    This is a standard feature of new NFC chips.
    It seems clear to me that finding more reasons to get young people into Apple products is a gold mind for longterm profits.

    peteo said:
    "meaning users no longer have to worry about keeping their device powered up to catch a ride, enter student housing or perform other NFC-based transactions."\\

    Umm no: "Notably, users are only able to access power reserve functionality under low power conditions, meaning the feature is unavailable following a standard hardware shutdown. "

    The phone still needs to have power. IE it won't work when the phone is not on, or when it's battery is completely depleted.  This is not like a non powered NFC card.
    It sounds like that last part isn't true.  When one's phone is "completely depleted" so that it has shut down, it may still have enough power to serve as a smart card.
    Apple seemed pretty clear that if you can press the Sleep/Wake button and get an image on-screen showing the battery needs to be charged that it will work for Express Card.
    lolliver
  • Reply 8 of 11

    This looks like a key stepping stone, and a 'testing of the waters', on the way to digital IDs/passports. I can't wait for a time when all I need to carry with me is my iPhone and/or Apple Watch.

    This would be especially helpful while travelling. It would also be helpful in any situation where you need to be able to show ID, but for security reasons you don't want to risk granting access to the contents of your phone.

    lostkiwi
  • Reply 9 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,388member

    This looks like a key stepping stone, and a 'testing of the waters', on the way to digital IDs/passports. I can't wait for a time when all I need to carry with me is my iPhone and/or Apple Watch.

    This would be especially helpful while travelling. It would also be helpful in any situation where you need to be able to show ID, but for security reasons you don't want to risk granting access to the contents of your phone.

    For my state or federal ID I don't want to be available via NFC without first having to authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID. Imagine a thief not just stealing your iPhone, but also being able to get your name, address, birthday, and other information with a simple NFC reader. From my experience, a college ID tends to be more limited, but even that I'd like the option to have it behind a passcode or biometric for the security conscious.
    edited September 2018 lostkiwi
  • Reply 10 of 11
    Johan42 said:
    To all of those Apple Haters who claim Apple is motivated only by profit:
       HOW MUCH WILL APPLE PROFIT FROM THIS ONE?

    No, Apple derives its profit from great products that not only "just work" but that make people's lives better.   They always have and, hopefully, always will.
    Apple, like any other company, is motivated by profit. Heck... they can make a brand new iPhone with what they charge to fix a broken screen. You think you would save money if you purchased AppleCare, but in reality you don’t because of the ridiculous down payment. That’s another phone they can make from that transaction.

    And before you call me an Apple Hater:


    Apple Hater!

    No, seriously, you simply don't understand the difference between Apple and say, a Samsung.
    In one product drives profit.
    In the other profit drives product.

    It's a subtle distinction but it makes a huge difference.
    lolliverbadmonk
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Soli said:

    This looks like a key stepping stone, and a 'testing of the waters', on the way to digital IDs/passports. I can't wait for a time when all I need to carry with me is my iPhone and/or Apple Watch.

    This would be especially helpful while travelling. It would also be helpful in any situation where you need to be able to show ID, but for security reasons you don't want to risk granting access to the contents of your phone.

    For my state or federal ID I don't want to be available via NFC without first having to authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID. Imagine a thief not just stealing your iPhone, but also being able to get your name, address, birthday, and other information with a simple NFC reader. From my experience, a college ID tends to be more limited, but even that I'd like the option to have it behind a passcode or biometric for the security conscious.

    Ah, very true. Glad you mentioned that. I omitted a big part of my thought process. I was thinking of it as function not necessarily attached to NFC (although retaining this as an option), being able to display your ID securely, without accessing or turning on the full OS, either from a locked screen, or with the phone turned off (kind of like the watch is able to provide a limited function when in low power mode).
    edited September 2018 Soli
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