The Samsung Galaxy S5 is compatible with all Ultralight, NTAG203 and NTAG213 NFC chips. These NFC chips are found in the majority of NFC tags and products including Printed NFC Stickers, NFC Hang Tags and NFC Starter Packs.
NFC tags allow you to instantly update your phones settings or launch a web address by simply tapping your mobile phone. The Trigger App is free to download from Google Play and is currently the most popular NFC app but there are also a wide range of free and low cost alternatives. Specific to Samsung the TecTile app offers similar features to Trigger and Samsung offers the TecTile NFC tags as an option to use with it.
The original Samsung TecTile used a 1K Mifare NFC chip that is not compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S5 but is compatible with previous smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3. Samsung have therefore created an updated TecTile using a universally compatible NFC chip, the Samsung TecTile 2. In short, makes sure you buy the TecTile 2 !
We've been asked a lot recently about the new NTAG216 chip from NXP and when we will stock it. It's an important product because it replaces the 1k in terms of memory capacity and Topaz in terms of all round mobile phone compatibility.
It's a perfect tag for vCard storage and the password protection features available on the new NTAG21x series chips means that it can also be used to store some larger data sets if required.
We will be stocking the NTAG216 in three sticker variants by the end of March and a PVC card variant during April. From there, we will see what customers prefer and decide whether to add additional products.
At the moment we have no plans to stock the NTAG215 (which has 504 bytes of memory against the 888 of the NTAG216).
We think that the market is essentially about the higher memory capacity NTAG216 and the flexible and more cost effective NTAG213. We have some NTAG210 which is a cheaper option for those who don't require the memory of the NTAG213 but in the long term, we think it'll be about the 216 and 213. The other options, such as the NTAG210, 212 and 215 aren't likely to feature much and we have no current plans to increase any sticker or product stock with these chips.
And this is where it gets really confusing. The EV1 is an advanced version of the Ultralight with the same memory but additional features similar the NTAG210. At the moment, the additional features are not in demand and we have no current plans to offer this chip as a sticker. It's likely we will start to offer this in card and wristband format as a replacement to the existing ultralight options but it will depend on volume pricing and demand.
As the battle continues for dominance of the mobile payment market the inclusion of fingerprint verification as seen in the iPhone 5s means this technology will likely become mainstream. Importantly although Apple have locked this functionality into their ecosystem, Samsung’s decision to initially pair with PayPal will mean consumers can using fingerprint verification for payment at a wide range of online retailers. This has far more scope and no doubt PayPal will be eying this up as an opportunity to start managing more payments in store via their Beacon technology.
More interesting will be whether Samsung opens up its fingerprint verification technology for use by other developers, notably Visa and Mastercard whose primary focus is on NFC. Following the inclusion of Host Card Emulation (HCE) in Android KitKat 4.4 NFC payments are no longer restricted by carrier support which opens up opportunity for more competition and innovation.
Mobile World Congress had a big emphasis on security this year which shows that the mobile industry is increasingly fixing its sites on offering a mainstream solution for mobile payments. It is becoming clear that although consumers will still have just one or two bank accounts for everyday purchases how they pay will be extremely diverse. Paying in your local supermarket via NFC, paying at Starbucks using Bluetooth (Beacon), paying online using your credit card details; what the technology is doesn’t matter as long as it’s quick and simple to use.
No payment solution is perfect for every situation, each having their own benefits and draw backs and therefore the task facing the mobile industry is to get the right payment solution in front of consumers at the right time, increasing the ease and simplicity of payments and ultimately drive sales.
It is often assumed that NFC and iBeacon are competing technologies and that in time one will cancel out the other. In reality whilst they both connect the physical and digital worlds they have fundamental differences in how they work and the type of interaction offered.
NFC and iBeacon use different technologies for communication, NFC using near field communication as found in a contactless bank and transit cards (such as the London Oyster Card) whilst iBeacon uses BLE (Bluetooth low energy) which is commonly found in wireless headphones or used for transferring files between phones. Importantly the technologies have very different wireless ranges, NFC being typically 1-5cm and BLE being up to 50m.
The wireless range is very important as it dictates how the technology can be used. For example if you wished to validate individual concert tickets, using iBeacon with a 50m range and a cost of $20+ each would be useless however using NFC which can be highly location specific and costs as little as $0.20 per tag is ideal. Conversely if you wanted to push a notification to download an app to everyone in a department store iBeacon offers a much more practical solution.
BLE and therefore iBeacon is currently supported by all top 10 mobile manufactures which is an extremely attractive feature however like NFC consumers must have the setting turned on in order for it to work. By comparison NFC is currently supported by 9 out of 10 mobile manufacturers with the exception being Apple. Whether or not Apple will include NFC in the future is a subject for a separate blog however the number of NFC phones is increasing rapidly and offers a much slicker interaction than offered by the older QR code technology.
If Apple does not support NFC in likelihood iBeacon will become a better option for marketing as it is a one size fits all solution. NFC however will still be of value working alongside QR codes in highly location specific marketing solutions such as individual items on a shop shelf. Further to this NFC will hold value where the consumer has the NFC tag, for example a concert ticket, payment or transit card. iBeacon's simply aren't available at a price or in a format where providing each consumer with an iBeacon is practical.
By being highly location specific NFC marketing must be intentionally engaged with. For example if a restaurant had an advertising poster to 'tap and receive a discount voucher' the consumer would need to make the choice to engage. By comparison iBeacon is a more aggressive marketing strategy as the message would be pushed to every Bluetooth connected device in range. Both strategies have their place and it will depend on the individual campaign which is most appropriate.
NFC is already integrated within payment terminals of most major retailers due to the introduction of contactless bank cards from global payment providers such as Visa. NFC payments from a mobile phone are the next logical step and whilst no one solution has established itself the introduction of Android KitKat 4.4 is set to change that. Importantly NFC payments are not just supported by the majority of mobile manufactures but also by the payment industry. Payments is an area Apple have little influence in and therefore their support is far less important.
iBeacon will allow consumers to pay wirelessly in store though the technology is too young to tell if this will happen. To use iBeacon a customer would need to download an app for each retailer and although it could be great for a supermarket where most are regular shoppers in the vast majority of cases the standard retail model of going to a checkout is far simpler and likely to be favoured by consumers. Another thing to consider is will retailers trust consumers to make purchases without visiting a checkout? If you stood by a clothes rail, went on your phone for 30 seconds and walked out how would staff know if your purchase was legitimate or not? Add to this retailers also would lose out on valuable face to face interaction with their customers and the proposition is not such an easy sell.
NFC and iBeacons will likely work alongside each other in the long term with NFC offering the less aggressive marketing option of the two. iBeacon has huge marketing potential and it's compatibility with devices from all major mobile manufacturers means it will likely become the marketing tool of choice. That said both technologies are about a lot more than marketing !
NFC still offers the most secure and practical payment solution. It's close proximity means it offers greater security for both the consumer and retailers and it sits much more neatly into the current retail experience. It is also worth noting that NFC is much more established and has been used globally in contactless payment, transit, security and loyalty systems for years. In these instances the consumer requires an NFC tag in a small unpowered format such as a card or sticker; something iBeacon will not offer in the future.
Despite some marketing cross over these technologies have fundamentally different properties and uses cases and by understanding the differences the right option can be chosen.
A question we are frequently asked is what is the best way to encode NFC tags ? Typically there are two options, using an NFC enabled mobile phone or a USB NFC reader/writer.
For most the answer is an NFC enabled phone and there are many free or low cost apps available on all NFC supported mobile platforms including Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. Apps offer the best solution because they are easy to use and importantly handle details such as data formatting behind the scenes.
RapidNFC offers a range of NFC tags specifically designed for use with Trigger. We recommend these great products !
Task Launcher NFC Pack - Contains a total of 12 multi-coloured 29mm gloss finish NTAG203 stickers and 6 NTAG203 hang tags with the RapidNFC trademark NFC logo. Six Colours - Blue, Red, Green, Black, White and Yellow.
Mini Twelve Pack NTAG203 NFC Stickers - Twelve multi-coloured mini size 29mm gloss finish NTAG203 stickers with the RapidNFC trademark NFC logo. Six colours - black, white, green, red, blue and yellow.
Hang Tag Six Pack NTAG203 - Six NTAG203 hang tags with the RapidNFC trademark NFC logo. Six Colours - Blue, Red, Green, Black, White and Yellow..
Yesterday saw the release of the new Google Nexus 5 and more importantly the release of Android 4.4 KitKat. We say more importantly as while the Nexus 5 looks to be an undoubtedly great phone the new release of Android will in time be available on all Android phones and shows us where the world's largest mobile operating system is heading next !
A key upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat is that it allows NFC host card emulation (HCE) without the need to access a secure element, or in more simple terms, any app on Android can emulate an NFC smart card and therefore will allow Android phones to be used for payment, loyalty cards, access, transport passes and a whole host of other services.
Previous versions of Android require applications to access a secure element in the NFC chip when making NFC payments. This meant mobile carriers only supported the payment applications they wanted to leaving many apps such as Google Wallet without support. Android 4.4 KitKat removes that obstacle.Perhaps more importantly this move further establishes Android's support for NFC as the future of mobile payments. Android now accounts for a staggering 79.3% of the global smartphone market so this backing is very important indeed !
As a company at the forefront of delivering NFC tags and products we frequently meet with many of the world's largest advertisers and brands. No matter what the meeting is about one question always comes up, 'Just how many NFC smartphones are there ?'. In this blog we will try to answer that question.
There are no set figures for the number of NFC smartphones however there are key indicators that offer an accurate estimation of the number of NFC phones and whether that total is significant by comparison to the overall smartphone market.
Research from established sources serves as an important indicator of how many devices are in circulation. These are the two most reliable sources we have found.
1. ABI Research, one of the most established technology market researches in the world, has predicted that 285 million NFC devices will ship in 2013, this up from its prediction of 102 million for 20122. The report also confirms that nine of the top ten OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have commercially available NFC handsets.
2. Frost & Sullivan, another global researcher has added to the ABI research by predicting 53% of phones will be NFC-enabled by 2015, estimated at 863 million units3.
These figures clearly show that NFC is becoming an increasingly available technology and that its growth is accelerating. As growth continues it creates opportunity both alongside and separate from mobile payments to offer consumers better interactive and digital experiences through their mobile phone.
The number of NFC enabled smartphones is only one part of the jigsaw as unless NFC is accompanied with consumer awareness and ultimately services that make the technology genuinely useful it is without value. In 2013 this has started to gain real traction.
There have been a number of key indicators including global promotion by leading payment vendors such as Visa but more interestingly by out-of-home advertisers such as CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel and JCDecaux. The growth we have seen has been less associated with payments and more with experiential and digital marketing as the wider scope for NFC is understood and utilised.
1. Create your own Christmas video... we like JibJab !
2. Share your favourite Christmas tunes by linking to a Spotify or Dropbox playlist.
3. Linking to a company website or promotion.
4. Link to your favourite Christmas website. We like Your Christmas Countdown. Quick tip - make sure the website is mobile friendly.
We have teamed up with Maplin, the UK’s largest specialist retailer of consumer electronics, to stock and retail RapidNFC NFC Retail Packs. The rollout will take place in over 200 Maplin stores allowing shoppers to purchase NFC tags in high streets across the UK.
The initial rollout includes the Multicolour Mini Stickers Retail Pack that contains 12 NFC sticker tags. Each NFC tag contains the NXP NTAG203 chip ensuring compatibility with all NFC enabled mobile phones and can be programmed using free and low cost apps available on all NFC supported platforms including Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. By tapping an NFC phone to the tag users can automatically update mobile settings, launch apps or view content online.
We are really proud to be the first company to bring NFC tags to the high street as the NFC industry continues to grow and expand.
New NFC products, comments, general views and other opinions about NFC tags, NFC phones and all things NFC !Tweets by @RapidNFC