The new iPhones are big news. They’re even bigger news for us.

“We’ve shipped a product for a phone that isn’t even available yet.”
September 13, 2018

This year, as we always do, we avidly tuned into the Apple live stream to watch the September Keynote. Whilst the new iPhones — the XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR — look like incredible pieces of hardware, the software geeks in us were even more excited to learn about a new feature that’ll be shipping with the phones later this month:

Background NFC Scanning

At Doordeck, we use NFC as our primary way to unlock a door using your phone: it’s the most reliable, the easiest to install, and the fastest way to identify a lock (and then unlock it!). Plus, well, it just looks really cool:

Background scanning has been available on Android for some time now, and last year we had a glimmer of hope when Apple released NFC scanning in-app — which we supported from the day it launched.

So what’s the big deal this year?

Background NFC on iPhone means we’ll finally be able to offer our iPhone users a completely seamless experience: just hold your unlocked phone next to our Tile (more on those in a moment), and you’ll get a little popup. Tap that notification and your phone sends a secure, encrypted request to Doordeck, unlocking the door. In practise, we expect that entire interaction to take less than a second — the fastest for any keyless product currently out there. And, as we always aim for here at Doordeck, this functionality will be available from the new iPhones’ launch date.

Since I mentioned Tiles, it’s a good time for me to explain (briefly) what they are and how they work:

NFC access control on iPhone

Tiles are unique to Doordeck. In fact, we cut, engrave and program them right here in London. They’re a small (5cm) acrylic plaque that can be mounted anywhere (well… preferably next to the door.)

They don’t require any power, cables, or batteries, and all they do is tell your phone which door you’re standing next to — by using either the NFC chip inside or the QR code on front. We don’t use Bluetooth at Doordeck, and for good reason: it requires you to install a lot of costly hardware, doesn’t offer great levels of security, and above all: it’s SLOW — as soon as your keyless lock takes more than a couple of seconds to work, you’ve lost people, leaving them wondering why they gave up their keycards for this in the first place. Plus, what happens when the Bluetooth standards change again? Then you’re stuck with expensive, outdated lock hardware you need to replace every few years. It’s not for us.

So, we’re super excited to announce that, from today, all Doordeck Tiles will be Background NFC-friendly, compatible with iPhone XS and XR. In fact, we sent our first compatible Tile to a new customer this morning. We’ve shipped a product for a phone that isn’t even available yet, and I can’t deny I’m pretty proud of that.

Existing customers won’t miss out, either…

What’s more, we’re offering a new programme — Tile Trade-In — for our customers who are already using Doordeck access control. Existing users can simply send us their Tiles in the post, we’ll reprogram them for free and pay the return postage. We can even use the same Tile and NFC chip, so no plastic gets wasted either.

Doordeck will be the first access control product to support Background NFC on iPhone— and I’m really proud of our team for turning this around so fast. We’re excited to show you it in action as soon as we get hold of the new iPhones ourselves!