Google rumored to be purchasing Softcard

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Paying for merchandise using your smartphone via Near Field Communication (NFC) is all the buzz these days since Apple Pay was launched. A lot of people in the media gloss over the fact that Google’s Wallet app on Android has given us this capability for quite a while now, though. Despite this oversight in media coverage, one beneficial thing does come out of it: the momentum generated by Apple Pay should help Google with retailers that were initially hesitant in supporting mobile-based payments.

Apple Pay and Google Wallet aren’t the only products on the field, however. One company that is also offering the same NFC payment services is Softcard, formerly branded as Isis Mobile Wallet. (The name change was due to the company not wanting to be even remotely associated with the militant terror organization named ISIS.) Similar to Google Wallet, Softcard has been struggling to make headway in the payment sector, but unlike Wallet, Softcard has lacked the financial backing needed to keep it afloat while it waits for retailers to catch up.

Google, who has not really put a lot of work into making Wallet a bigger game-changer, is rumored to be eyeing Softcard for acquisition in an attempt to bolster Wallet’s weak offering to Android consumers. Softcard does have a few perks in its portfolio, which Google may find appetizing. 
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Toshiba announces memory card with preview functionality thanks to built-in NFC

TOSHIBA_NFC_SDHCcard_150106Toshiba announced an SDHC memory card today that comes with a built-in NFC chip. Starting in February, consumers will be able to purchase said memory card in 8, 16 and 32GB capacities. Toshiba used CES to show off these new cards. The cards use NFC to exchange data with just a touch. With help from the Memory Card Preview app, the memory cards give you a heads up as to the amount of storage the card has available plus up to 16 thumbnails of photos stored on the card. This way, you don’t have to pop the card into your computer in order to figure out whats on it.

Other than that it’s a pretty standard SD card with all the functionality that encompasses said card. As far as pricing is concerned, it’s unknown but we’ll update you when we know more. We have the presser after the break and be sure to check out our full coverage of CES.


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Yale replaces physical keys with digital in new Real Living NFC Deadbolt

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There are so many household items that can be controlled remotely from a mobile device. The home can even be secured without having to take out keys and locking/unlocking the door manually. The Yale Real Living NFC Deadbolt pairs with an Android device to allow tapping as the unlocking action.

In the even that a user does not have his or phone in-hand, they can enter the passcode on the Real Living NFC Deadbolt’s screen. So Yale’s device features both new and old technologies in the event one is not possible at any given time.

Homeowners can provide family members or any other trustworthy people with digital keys as well. The homeowner is notified when these people have and utilize the digital keys. Also, the access can be revoked and restore access at any time. Yale is providing five digital keys at no cost and each thereafter will be priced at $2 each in the Play Store.

The Yale Real Living NFC Deadbolt will cost $225. That price is appropriate given the fact that the hardware is considered to be indestructible.

Hit the break for the full press release. Click here for our full CES 2015 coverage.


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MasterCard and Visa announc NFC payment support through KitKat’s host card emulation feature

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With KitKat, Google introduced host card emulation (HCE) as a means to get around needing access to a secure element, which would allow Google Wallet and other potential mobile payment options to work on devices running Android 4.4, regardless of what US carriers wanted. So far, Google Wallet has been the only app to take advantage of this, but today both Visa and MasterCard have announced support for NFC payments with Google’s newly introduced methods.
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Droid Zap application from Motorola receives Google-styled interface update

Droid Zap

Droid Zap, Motorola’s sharing application, received a new update which replaces the user interface with a Google-styled one, much like the card-layout on popular apps such as Google+ and YouTube.

Though the update doesn’t bring any new functionality, it certainly looks a lot better and will probably be a lot easier to use. A familiar sidebar is also included which features settings within the app. The two-finger swipe up gesture is still used to share content.

While only owners of the most recent DROID line (Ultra, Mini, Maxx) can send files using the app, anyone using an Android device can receive files with Droid Zap.

Check out the app for yourself by hitting the link to it in the Play Store after the break. 


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Sony testing a “BT Wrist Notifier,” passes through FCC— CES 2014 announcement?

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Sony’s SmartWatch wasn’t all that revolutionary, but it certainly was a huge step in the right direction. We’re a while away from getting the perfect smartwatch, but it looks like we won’t have to wait all that long before taking another step forward.

FCC documents show that Sony is currently testing a “BT Wrist Notifier,” known as SWR10. There aren’t any details besides the fact that the device will use both NFC and Bluetooth.

It won’t be long before an announcement— CES, anyone?

Source: FCC

 

Google Wallet Card is official, physical cards available only in the U.S.

google_wallet_cardIf you’re more interested in a physical card to shop with rather than NFC payments, Google has created the Wallet Card. With this physical card, you gain access to ATMs, banks, and wherever else MasterCard Debit is accepted. The card will use funds from your Wallet Balance to make payments, much like a regular debit card. Just make sure your Wallet account has the proper amount of funds. There’s no annual or monthly fees, so you can use the card freely.

The Google Wallet app will be updated later this week to allow users to order their Wallet Card. Or if you’re in a hurry, login to your Wallet account from a computer. For now, Google Wallet Card is only available in the United States.

Source: Google Commerce

HTC Mini+ shows up on HTC’s site, essentially a phone for your phone

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HTC has certainly been unpredictable for basically the past year, with troubling sales figures, angry executives who ditched the manufacturer, rumors of a sale of the company, and more— now we’re seeing some really odd phone accessories.

Today, the HTC Mini+ showed up on HTC’s website, which is essentially a phone accessory that provides added functionality to your device— a “sidekick,” if you will. The Mini+, which comes with built-in NFC capabilities, a laser pointer, and an IR blaster, serves as a Bluetooth handset/remote control for your smartphone meant for taking calls and showing instant notifications for things such as emails, texts, events, etc.

The product is certainly aimed at a small niche market and is only compatible with select HTC devices including the One Mini, Butterfly S, Desire 200, Desire 500, and will eventually work with the international HTC One. Who knows, something like this may eventually catch on, especially with phones becoming bigger and bigger, and with multitasking becoming even more prominent than ever before. We’ll just have to wait and see…

Pricing and release date is still unknown for the HTC Mini+ in the US, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we find out.

Source: HTC

Motorola Skip for Moto X formally announced, includes three Skip Dots and is free with custom Moto X purchases

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Last night, a new accessory for the Moto X called Motorola Skip showed up and vanished just as quickly. We already had an idea that it was designed to clip to your pants to unlock your Moto X easier, at least for those that use a security PIN or pattern lock. This is the case, but Motorola just formally introduced it and gave us a little more information.

If you remember, back in May at D11, Regina Dugan showed off some futuristic ways people will be able to use to authenticate their devices. The Motorola Skip isn’t that futuristic, but it is an example of some of the early progress that Motorola is making. Even though it is something that every smartphone/tablet owner should do, often times people don’t set a security lock screen since it’s such a pain to unlock the device just to read a quick email. Motorola Skip was designed to allow Moto X owners to implement this security, but still be able to unlock their device with ease.


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