Must-have NFC smartphones

NFC technology has been poised to reach critical mass, at least in the U.S., for years now. Touted to bestow upon smartphones a wide range of magical solutions, proponents of NFC (near field communication) have said it will enable everything from using your phone as a digital wallet, serving as a secure and convenient method of identification, to even unlocking your home's front door.

And if the technology's big presence at MWC 2013 was any indication, it seems the long wait for the wonderful world of NFC might actually be nearing an end. Yes, almost all of … Read more

How e-wallets could be a gold mine for credit card companies

Consumers may one day ditch their plastic credit cards, but that doesn't mean that they'll abandon their credit card companies.

In fact, the move from a leather wallet to a digital one could be a boon for companies like Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.

Digital wallets, which allow users to store their credit cards, retail loyalty cards, coupons and even tickets in digital form on a mobile device, have been one of the most talked about emerging segments of the mobile market. Everyone from Google to Apple to Microsoft to PayPal to wireless carriers and even retailers … Read more

Need to lend your key? E-mail it, Fraunhofer says

HANOVER, Germany--You're traveling and your coworker needs your key to get into your office. Why not just e-mail it?

That's the idea behind Fraunhofer Institute's Key2Share technology, which the German research lab is developing in partnership with Bosch and showing off here at the CeBIT show.

Key2Share uses smartphones equipped with near-field communications (NFC) short-range wireless networking abilities to unlock phones. But because approval to use the key becomes digital data, a person can e-mail that approval.

It could be useful for other situations, too, said Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, a researcher involved with the project. For example, a … Read more

6 things I want to do with NFC (Smartphones Unlocked)

Tapping your phone on a console to pay for fries and a Coke is cool. Yet until the stars align, it's not how you'll be using NFC, the Near Field Communications standard that gets devices talking to one another quickly and in a very short range.

Instead of using NFC to replace your credit card, it will increasingly become your passcode, your key. Best of all, it can be used to program one tag with a certain set of instructions that can launch specific actions when read by another NFC-enabled device.

In other words, just one tap of … Read more

NFC seeps into bloodstream of Mobile World Congress

BARCELONA, Spain--NFC (near field communication) technology has been around for some time now, but as of yet it's failed to hit a level of ubiquity in our devices that would galvanize more businesses to adopt it. That, however, is changing fast.

While most think of NFC as solely a new payment solution, companies are constantly finding new ways to implement it.

NFC is essentially a new way to exchange information from one device to another, wirelessly. It's different from other wireless technology in that it requires the two devices to be within a centimeter of each other. Hence … Read more

Sony needs help naming its pink balls

It's not every day the president of Sony writes a blog post headlined "Help Sony's President Name His Pink Audio Balls."

What balls are we talking about? Today, Sony U.S. President Phil Molyneux took to the company's official blog and asked the Internet to leave a comment with a new name for the anemic-sounding SRS-BTV5 Bluetooth Wireless Mobile Speaker. If he likes the name, he'll push it through as the product's new moniker. The people behind the top five names get free -- ahem -- balls.… Read more

Visa's plan to spur NFC mobile wallet adoption may hit a snag

Visa's new partnership with Samsung to embed its PayWave technology directly into Samsung devices could help kick-start NFC-enabled payments around the world. But U.S. wireless subscribers may be left out of the frenzy.

Samsung and Visa announced the partnership, which is part of a new partner program for Visa, at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona today. Specifically, Samsung will incorporate Visa's PayWave mobile payment applet into future Samsung devices such as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4. Visa will also make it easier for customers to tie their Samsung phones to financial institutions and their personal … Read more

NFC: Not just for mobile payments anymore

Move over, mobile payments. NFC is finding other ways to make itself useful.

In fact, paying for items with one's phone seems to be the least common use for the close-range connectivity technology right now, at least based on gadgets unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show. Rather, essentially all products using NFC shown at the recent confab employed the technology in one of two ways: To set up a sort of digital handshake between a mobile device and another gadget or as a way to share information between products with just a tap.

"NFC really simplifies things," … Read more

Print smartphone pics in a snap (and NFC) with LG Pocket Photo (hands-on)

LAS VEGAS--Is that a printer in your pants or are you just happy to remember this moment? With the Pocket Photo, which LG featured in its massive CES 2013 booth, you'll be relieved to know that it really is just a printer.

And a pretty cute printer at that -- coming in three different colors (pink, silver, and orange) with a metallic finish on its edges, the compact Pocket Photo launched last September in South Korea.

Unfortunately, an LG rep told me that there hasn't been any official plans for it to come to the U.S. yet.… Read more

Parrot jazzes up sleek Philippe Starck speaker

LAS VEGAS--Wireless peripheral maker Parrot is showing off an update to its Philippe Starck-designed Zikmu Solo wireless speaker system. Due sometime this year, the system doesn't differ much aesthetically from the original model introduced back in 2009. The latest version, does, however, offer improved innards, powerful sound, and a lower price point.

The $999 Zikmu Solo has 2x100-watt output and a built-in 1GHz ARM A8 processor that the company says "controls the path of the coil of the bass loudspeaker in real time" to greatly reduce distortion during playback.

The 2.1 stereo audio speaker system features built-in Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC (for quick pairing). Aside from the array of connectivity features, the Zikmu also jives with DLNA for networked streaming and can even connect with another Zikmu (over Wi-Fi) for even more output. A built-in speaker dock at the top of the device works with older iPhones and iPods with a 30-pin power port.… Read more