Pass Navigo in the iPhone: the last sprint?

Taking the metro in Paris with the Navigo pass integrated into the iPhone will finally be possible by the end of June. This is what the president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, promises.



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iPhone owners should soon no longer need to use their Navigo pass to access the transport network in Île-de-France.  (BENOIT DURAND / AFP)

It’s a project in the works for… six years. Technical, administrative and financial imbroglio: the integration of the Navigo pass into the iPhone is not a long, quiet river. And yet, people have been taking the subway in Japan with their iPhone since 2016 and, since then, in a number of other countries: China, Australia, Canada, Sweden, United States, Russia, etc. In London, you buy a ticket on the fly, in a fraction of a second, on the Tube, by placing your Apple smartphone on the gates. In France, for three years, you can – of course – recharge your Navigo pass (the physical card) by pressing it against an iPhone after having paid the subscription via the telephone but you still cannot dematerialize this physical card in an iPhone so that it is possible, in an Android phone, since October 2022.

NFC: Apple wants its piece of the pie

If the project has dragged on for so long, it is – initially – the fault of Apple and Apple’s locking of NFC technology – the famous “contactless”. The component has existed in iPhones since 2014 (since the iPhone 6) but access to contactless is blocked, by default, by the manufacturer. First, Apple uses it for its own payment system, Apple Pay. And then, since NFC will allow the use of paid subscriptions, the iPhone manufacturer wants its share of the pie. Unlocking the NFC to be able to use it, as in the case of the Navigo pass, requires a financial agreement with Apple.

In Paris, it is considered that negotiations began in 2018. The agreement between Apple and Île-de-France Mobilités was signed in February 2022. Next month, it will therefore be six years. It must be said that the appeal against Apple filed by the prefect of Paris before the administrative court of Île-de-France, two years ago, did not help.

And then, the American giant also pays close attention to NFC because of its other concern: security. Legend has it that in 2022, Apple requested that several gantries from the Paris metro be sent to California to carry out tests in near-real conditions.

An essential facility for Paris 2024

After several postponements, Valérie Pécresse promised, this week, that we will be able to travel on public transport with an iPhone before the end of the first semester (the Ile-de-France Mobilités website speaks of spring 2024). And therefore before the end of June because the Paris 2024 Games will begin less than a month later. So what is all this for? For greater simplicity.

iPhones, since the iPhone XS and the SE 2, have included another technology called “Transport Express”. It allows you to buy a transport ticket and pass through the gates, without contact, even when your phone has run out of battery, thanks to an energy reserve which lasts around five hours after the inevitable switching off of the phone.

source site-15