NFC Assisted Printer's Bluetooth Connection Setup on iOS

Apple has introduced the Core NFC Framework since iOS 11. Starting from iOS 11, apps are able to use the NFC reader on iPhone 7 or the later models to detect NFC tags. This is really great news for developers writing apps to work with Zebra mobile printers, because almost all of Zebra mobile printers are equipped with NFC tags. The NFC tag is installed on the right side of Zebra mobile printer marked with an icon. The tag is encoded with the printer's model name, serial number, Bluetooth MAC address, etc. With a simple touch on the NFC tag, an app can obtain all the information it needs about the printer to set up a Bluetooth connection. This provides a great convenience for the end users when they need to set up the Bluetooth connection either with Bluetooth Classic or Bluetooth Low Energy. An iOS app can set up the Bluetooth connection within the app, rather than asking the end users to go through the settings on the phone.

We created a demo app, ZebraPrinterNFCDemo, to demonstrate how iOS apps can take advantage of the NFC tags on the printers. The demo demonstrates how to use Core NFC Framework to read the printer’s NFC tag, how to parse the information read from the tag, how to connect to Bluetooth Classic through Apple’s Bluetooth Accessory Picker, and how to connect to Bluetooth Low Energy with Core Bluetooth Framework and do a printer status check, etc. The XCode project of ZebraPrinterNFCDemo​ app is available on GitHub for download. Below is the animation of the demo in action.


Please note, Zebra iMZ Series and QLn Series printers are enabled with the Bluetooth Classic. Zebra ZQ Series printers are enabled with both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy.

As always, any comments are welcome. Happy coding!