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May 5, 2021
On the 20th of April, it was the first Apple event of 2021 and as always it certainly did not disappoint, one thing that caught the attention of many was unseen before. Creating a brand new product category for Apple is the AirTag, it has been in the pipeline and anticipated for a while by speculators. As Apple describes it “AirTag is an easy way to keep track of your stuff. Attach one to your keys, slip another in your backpack. And just like that, they’re on your radar in the Find My app.”
How does it work?
The AirTag uses Bluetooth to locate the item that it has been coupled with, Bluetooth can only produce a short-range signal. The clever thing is, to locate your item the AirTag only needs to be near any other Apple device, and there are now nearly a billion of those globally… so there is no doubt you will find your item. When the lost mode is activated the AirTag pings out a signal and when an Apple user walks past it will communicate with their device, unbeknown to the Apple device owner. Keeping you up to date with the latest location of your lost possession and not letting anyone else know the details about you or your device.
What about Android phones?
If an android user comes across the lost possession and sees that there is an AirTag attached to it, both iOS & Android devices can communicate with the AirTag through the use of NFC, by tapping their smartphone onto the Apple AirTag it will populate the contact details for the owner so that they can return the item to where it belongs.
This may sound familiar. That’s because it uses the same technology that Aircharge+ incorporates for its touch-free Scan Tap Order solution, All Apple and Android users need to do is tap to launch digital services and digital ordering.
What is NFC?
NFC stands for near field communication, it allows for short-range communication between two compatible devices. A transmitting device, in this case, the AirTag or the Aircharge+ NFC enabled solutions and another device to receive the signal – the smartphone. The technology on which NFC is based is rumoured to have been created in WWII, although it was officially invented in 1983 by Charles Walton when he filed the first patent with the word RFID.
A few other use cases for NFC:
- Payment (Apple Pay, Google Pay & Card Payment)
- Security tags
- Hotel Room Access (Key Cards)
- Marketing Campaigns
- Clothing Authentication (The designer brand Moncler include NFC tags in the Moncler bad which indicates its authenticity)
- Marketing campaigns (used on posters to launch relevant landing pages)
- Business Cards (Contactless contact)
- To launch digital ordering/menu’s
It’s fairly obvious that NFC is here to stay for the long run, and could eventually make QR codes obsolete! However, because not all smartphones have NFC capability, the QR code is a good failsafe for users to access the same content through a camera scan of the QR code.
The majority of Android devices have NFC capability, all the way back to Samsung’s Nexus S, the first android device to have NFC support which was released over 10 years ago. It wasn’t quite as useful then as it is now though.
With Apple, there is a bit more context. Apple has had NFC functionality built into their devices since the iPhone 6, released in 2014. However, the NFC functionality had been locked down to apple pay until more recently when the iPhone XS, released in 2018 and Apple users were granted access to the world of NFC without the need for an app. Since the iOS 14 update in June 2020, we saw a new addition to the control centre. An NFC tag reader was added to the iPhone 7 onwards to engage with NFC solutions.
All of this means that the majority of phone users can now interact with the NFC function, which is particularly useful when entering a venue with the Aircharge+ Scan Tap Order solution. Users can tap their device on the digital marker, this will then open the aircharge+ landing page that includes an option to view the menu and order their food, all touch-free. However, if the device does not have near field communication then the Aircharge+ digital marker and wireless charging solution also include a QR code for the users that haven’t got the luxury of NFC.
Want to find out more about the Aircharge+ touch-free solution?