Apple’s new iPhones, iBeacon & BLE

Apple's colourful new iPhones

Apple’s colourful new iPhones

As an Apple fan boy I was pretty interested to see what Apple would announce during this week’s keynote. I wasn’t disappointed with the new iPhones (great advances with the camera) but I don’t think there was anything really revolutionary to shout about. Well, there was one thing…


The one thing many folks have been expecting Apple to start building into their phones is NFC (Near Field Communication); geeky terms aside, this is technology which allows stuff like London Underground’s Oyster Card to work – you don’t have to insert your card into a reader; just hold it close to the reader and wireless magic does the rest…

Imagine smart phones had widespread use of such proximity functionality; this would open the door to many location based and sharing applications including micro payments etc.


Many people saw this lack of NFC on iPhones as a weakness but a few developments recently have shown that this may not be the case.

In steps BLE (or Bluetooth Low Energy) – many of us are familiar with Bluetooth (wireless headsets and all that) but many might not know about recent advances in greatly reducing the power consumption required; this suddenly opens the doors to interesting applications.

Take a look at this video:

Now before you think this is spammy (and yes, SMS advertising never really took off), take a minute to think about how cleverer, more engaging marketers can use this in a useful, value adding manner.

Perhaps Apple didn’t need NFC after all then?


p.s. for further reading, check out the excellent article below



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2 Responses

  1. Hi Joel – concerned about NFC and wireless phone payment apps. It seems it took about 10 seconds for someone to invent an app that will nick a small(ish) sum from your phone as they bump into you in a crowd. It being a small sum you don’t register it and they can pick up a lot of them in a crowded place. There’s always someone out there wanting to spoil things.

    • Joel_Hughes says:

      Hi Bob,
      You’re right to be concerned but, to be honest, this is a solveable problem.

      E.g. (and please bear in mind I’ve not given a lot of thought to this) my guess at a sensible use case would be:

      1) I enter a shop
      2) go to the till with my goods
      3) whip out my phone & place it near the reader
      4) my phone confirms the amount displayed on the merchant EPOS display
      5) I click ACCEPT and all done

      So, I would certainly NOT use a system which either did not have security in place; I need to ‘accept’ transactions.

      I could accept a “non accept’ (just swipe) scenario IF (and only if) such a system were not open to compromise.

      With your background Bob, you probably know full well that the banks will not accept a system which has big security holes.

      Also, if NFC etc *were* fundamentally flawed, then people could wander around with an app and steal credit from your Oyster card. I believe it comes down to secure implementation.

      Give it time, all will be well (of course the NSA can do what they want ;)


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