It’s undeniable that NFC (near-field communication) is a technology that makes many daily tasks very convenient, ranging from quickly paying for something with a mobile device or a contactless card to entering an office without the need for manual identification.
On the other hand, if you are an iPhone user, you may eventually find that the NFC capability of your iPhone becomes a nuisance now and then, with NFC-related notifications popping up for no apparent reason and creating a great deal of confusion.
Fortunately, the “NFC Tag Detected” or the “Item Detected” notifications, which are both related to NFC, are nothing to worry about (other than the fact that they can become bothersome), even when they appear out of your control.
So, what really is the meaning of the “NFC Tag Detected” and the “Item Detected” notifications on your iPhone?
The “NFC Tag Detected” or the “Item Detected” notification pops up on the screen as a result of your iPhone coming into close contact with an NFC tag that it’s compatible with, as the iPhone constantly scans for NFC tags as long as the screen is on and shows you the data once it detects one.
In the upcoming sections, we will be taking a closer look at the iPhone NFC tag detected notification, find out whether it’s possible to disable the background NFC tag reading feature that creates this notification, and discuss ways of preventing the iPhone from randomly reading NFC tags.
What Is the iPhone NFC Tag (Item) Detected Notification?
Encountering the “NFC Tag Detected” or the “Item Detected” notification can be a surprising one, especially considering that the text that is displayed on the screen can vary based on the data from the NFC tag.
In a nutshell, the “NFC Tag Detected” (or “Item Detected”) notification will appear on the screen of your iPhone whenever four conditions are satisfied, which are as follows:
- The screen of your iPhone is on.
- None of the apps are currently preventing the background NFC tag reading from being active.
- There is an NFC tag in close proximity to your iPhone.
- The NFC tag contains meaningful data that your iPhone understands.
While the first three conditions are pretty straightforward, the last condition is the reason that your iPhone will only pick up on some NFC tags automatically, even in cases where you actively try to scan an NFC tag and get your iPhone to send you a notification.
In this case, “meaningful data” refers to something that the iPhone is compatible with either natively or through a third-party app, with a URL being an example of native compatibility and the balance of a prepaid card being an example of a third-party one, provided that you have the corresponding application installed.
For instance, if the NFC tag that your iPhone came into contact with has a URL on it, you will almost always receive a notification since the iPhone will be able to extract the URL data from the NFC tag and send you this data.
On the other hand, in the case of scanning an NFC tag that doesn’t contain any meaningful data, which can be something such as the card that you use to enter your office building, your iPhone most likely won’t display a notification, as there won’t be anything meaningful to show.
Please note that your iPhone will still technically scan the NFC tag in the second case, and even though it won’t send you a notification due to the lack of meaningful data, it will run any automation you have configured to trigger when that particular NFC tag is detected.
Is It Possible to Deactivate the Background NFC Tag Reading Feature on the iPhone?
While there are plenty of scenarios where the background NFC tag reading feature becomes highly convenient, it’s undeniable that it can also generate a lot of false positives that end up swarming your iPhone with irrelevant notifications.
Even though it’s not possible to permanently switch off the background NFC tag reading feature on the iPhone, the fact that the feature only becomes active when the screen of your iPhone is on makes it possible to deactivate it temporarily in a controllable manner.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the background NFC tag reading feature will also be put on hold when you’re using the Wallet app, when paying with Apple Pay, when an application that puts the cameras of your iPhone in use is running, when the device is in airplane mode, or when it’s restarted for the first time without being unlocked.
How to Prevent the iPhone from Randomly Reading NFC Tags?
Since there is no way to permanently disable the background NFC tag reading feature on the iPhone, preventing your iPhone from randomly reading the NFC tags in close proximity and generating notifications that can eventually become bothersome can be a slightly challenging task.
That being said, considering the fact that the background NFC tag reading feature only becomes active when the screen of your iPhone is on, the most straightforward way to ensure that your iPhone doesn’t randomly pick up on the NFC tags around you is to turn the screen off whenever your iPhone is not in use.
On the other hand, in cases where you have to use your iPhone actively, the best practice would be to keep it away from any NFC tags that can trigger the scan (around 2 inches should do the job), with the most common culprits being the various cards in your wallet.
While most of the exceptions (such as using an application with a camera) aren’t exactly feasible to be used as a way to temporarily disable the background NFC tag reading feature, putting your device into airplane mode can be a helpful one in particular cases.
While receiving the “NFC Tag Detected” or the “Item Detected” notification for the first time can be pretty confusing, especially when it appears for no rhyme or reason that you can think of, there is indeed a logical explanation behind the appearance of this notification.
To summarize, the “NFC Tag Detected” and the “Item Detected” notifications are sent as a result of your iPhone scanning an NFC tag, which happens automatically in the background whenever it comes into contact with a compatible NFC tag that it can extract data from, provided the screen of your iPhone is on at the time.
Unfortunately, as Apple did not make it possible to permanently disable the feature that causes the iPhone to automatically scan the NFC tags that it encounters, taking manual measures to prevent accidental NFC tag reads from occurring is all we can do to avoid the random notifications for now.
Mark’s first real encounter with tech was when he had to format his computer with Windows 98 around the age of 6 to quickly get back to playing Heroes of Might and Magic III without having to send the computer in for a repair, which he strangely found to be rather enjoyable since it was a new challenge for him at the time.
While he has always been particularly interested in the software side of things, which eventually led to him becoming a software developer, he enjoys keeping up with the advancements in consumer electronics and smart home technology when he’s not busy coding.