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iPhone XS and XR can automatically talk to NFC devices, no app required

Apple adds support for background tag reading.

James Martin / CNET

Here's one new feature Apple didn't share at its product event on Wednesday: the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR will allow users to scan NFC tags in the background, meaning you won't need to launch an app to pair it with other devices or initiate data transfers between devices.

After finding and scanning an NFC tag, a notification will pop up on your phone's screen. Tapping that notification launches the app associated with the link. Asking users to explicitly select the notification prevents any unintentional actions, 9to5Mac pointed out.  

NFC (near-field communication) allows two devices placed within a few centimeters of each other to exchange data. In order for this to work, both devices must be equipped with an NFC chip.

The feature only works when your phone's in use, so as to avoid unintentional tag reading. Background tag reading is also unavailable in a few different scenarios, such as when Apple Pay Wallet is being used, airplane mode is on or the phone hasn't been unlocked.

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