Rhodes NFC support and how NFC can change your business
We are excited to announce support for NFC with Rhodes 3.0. NFC enables major advances in smartphone capabilities. Specifically it enables smartphones to interact with and manage a multiple of everyday objects, everything that there can be an “NFC tag” for. Thus the devices (and their users) can read information from NFC tags and write information to them, enabling, among other things, purchasing and management of those NFC-tagged objects. More generally, NFC will eventually have a major impact on almost all businesses.
Providing people with smartphones allows for information capture and retrieval at the location and time that a product or service is purchased or delivered. If you walk into an Apple Store, the employee’s iPhone (albeit with a hardware accessory) lets that employee sell you the product right when you are looking at it. There is no “cash register” obstructing the front of the store and flow of customers to the merchandise.
For service delivery, this is even more useful. Whether the service provider is your contractor, gardener, auto mechanic, or waiter, if you can be billed and charged at the exact location and time when the service is delivered, the transaction is more efficient and satisfying for everyone concerned. Most restaurants in Europe charge credit cards right at the table with dedicated mobile card reading devices. The ability to charge at the point of service with smartphones will allow that convenience to be provided in the United States. For mobile service providers delivering a service outside of their normal venue, the efficiencies are even more dramatic.
Smartphones that are appearing now with NFC enable this shift in the way commerce (in both products and services) will take place. Google has performed extensive work in Android 2.3 to support NFC fully. Sprint ships the Google Nexus S 4G on May 8. RIM Announced the Bold 9900 and 9930 with NFC support on May 2nd at BlackBerry World. Nokia’s C7 already has NFC. Even popular consumer games like Angry Birds are taking advantage of NFC today.
However, there is a huge diversity of standards in the way to interface with various NFC chips and external accessories. It is a multiplicative nightmare. There are at least ten smartphone operating systems that will be available in the next two years (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, Meego, Samsung Bada, WebOS, and BB Playbook QNX). There are many ways of accessing accessories and purchasing objects: RFID, NFC ECMA 340, NFC ECMA 342, and devices such as the Square credit card reader. There are hundreds of ways to program to what is essentially the same logical process.
Frameworks like Rhodes that expose common ways of doing the same logical tasks are a better approach to writing apps that work across differing smartphones and differing accessories to enable this change to “devices at the point of service.” As ReadWriteWeb notes here, this long predicted “Internet of Things” is finally becoming a reality. NFC tags embedded in everyday objects allow consumers to interact with them (buy them, manage them, get informaton on them) from their smartphones . But the diversity of smartphone SDKs and the various standards are obstacles in quickly making this trend a reality. The Rhodes framework with unified API supporting NFC and other external devices addresses this problem in a way that individual device SDKs cannot.
Rhodes 3.0 (to be released on Tuesday, May 10th) will have support for Near Field Communications on Android phones. It is the first framework to have such support. We are excited to be an enabler of the next major step forward in the modern smartphone.
NFC Smartphone Growth 2010 to 2013