iOS 12: Contactless Interaction

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Hand on electronic door knob of open door with standard hotel room in the background.

Many iOS users have been taking advantage of Apple Pay, a contactless interaction that enables users to tap their phone on a contactless terminal. With Apple Pay, the iPhone automatically wakes up when held near the contactless terminal using the Near-Field Communication (NFC). NFC is defined as a set of communication protocols that enable electronic devices - one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone - to establish communication when within 4 cm (1.6 inches) of each other.

iOS 12 rumors report that iOS 12 will allow some third-party developers full access to the NFC chip inside iPhones, enabling users to unlock doors and use their iPhone as a virtual transit card. At Apple Park, Apple employees are already using their iPhones to unlock buildings. In the UK, iPhone customers can already use their iPhone at contactless terminals to travel on the transit system and users in Japan are using similar technology to access their transit system.

Apple Pay streamlines the process of pulling out a credit or debit card, identifying the correct card, finding the card slot, positioning the card the correct way to enter  straight into the slot, and turning the card so that the chip is facing the correct direction. Travelers who are visually impaired can benefit from these new contactless interactions applications. When staying in a hotel, using a card to unlock the door can be challenging. Travelers first have to identify where the slot is located and how a card is entered into the slot; some locks require that the card is entered from the top while others have a slot in the middle of the electronic lock. Once the slot is located and the card is in positioned, there are four options on how to turn the card so that it enters the slot facing the correct way. Some hotels have already installed updated contactless terminals, which simply enables the user to tap the card against the electronic lock. The option of using your phone instead of carrying and identifying a separate digital card may further streamline the process of unlocking doors. The same holds true for using digital cards to access transit systems. These new applications are expected to be fully accessible.

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