Discover, connect, and transmit data between devices.
Multipeer Connectivity is a means of identifying and connecting services together, and allows for very easy passing back and forth of data with minimal setup. If you are thinking that this seems similar to Bonjour, you are correct; however, Bonjour is for service discovery, not connection or transmission. Multipeer Connectivity handles everything in one neat package.
Multipeer Connectivity is comprised of a few different components, but it works by having applications advertise their services asking if anyone is available to connect. The service browser listens for these advertisements and can request to create a connection between the devices. If the connection is accepted, a session is created with every one inside the session being represented by a peer object.
To demonstrate how this works, we’ll make a simple chat application using Swift, Apple’s new language.
There's no such thing as perfect security, and we should stop sacrificing the good for the perfect.
I’ve had a day or two to play with my new iPhone 5s, and the fingerprint scanner is one of the nicer things about it. I like the added security of being able to unlock it with my fingerprint, because I was one of those people who could never be bothered to have a passcode on it before.
Of course, the news of the day is that some inventive folks in Germany have managed to unlock one of the phones by lifting a print from the glass of the display and using a variety of fairly low tech steps to create a false thumbprint from it. This should come as no surprise to anyone who understands how fingerprint sensors work. The 5s does more than some to prevent spoofing, but pretty much no fingerprint scanner is impervious to a determined attack.
What is sad to see is the conclusion that these hackers (and the press) have drawn. “Fingerprints aren’t a good method of securing data. You should never use something that you can’t change as a password. Always practice two-factor security policies.” Of course, if someone really wants to break into your phone, and is willing to expend the effort to do it, they can. If someone wants to break into a typical house, they can. If someone wants to steal your car, they can.
What to look out for when updating your code
As a bewildered Dorothy says in the movie The Wizard of Oz, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” When you open your iOS 6 project in Xcode 5 and run it in the iOS 7 simulator, you’ll know instantly that things have changed:
Gone is the colored status bar background; the status bar is always transparent, and all apps are full-screen apps, underlapping the status bar. A button has no rounded rect bezel, unless you draw it yourself as the button’s background. Many interface objects are drawn differently, with different dimensions. The subtle bar gradient is gone; colors are flat, unless you draw a gradient background yourself.
Forget Touch ID, we're still waiting for access to Siri!
As I mentioned last week, the new Touch ID feature of the iPhone 5S is (at least for the moment) only usable by Apple created software. What this means is that a developer can’t take advantage of the feature to authenticate a user inside an application, it can only be used to unlock the phone and authenticate to iTunes.
This continues a troubling trend we’ve seen with Apple lately. Nearly two years after the release of Siri, the voice UI is still locked out for anyone but Apple and their chosen partners (such as Wolfram Alpha.) I understand that opening up a technology for third party usage takes planning and work, but twice in a row now, Apple has released what could be a transformative technology, and left the developer community out of the picture.
Cashwrap brings Isis to iPhone, Target's price match goes year-round, and Shopgate makes products the point of sale.
Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space this week.
NFC-enabled Cashwrap case equips iPhone with Isis
At the 2013 International CES this week, Incipio and AT&T announced the launch of Cashwrap, an NFC-enabled iPhone case that equips iPhones with the Isis Wallet, currently only available for NFC-compatible Android phones. According to a post at 9to5Mac, the case will be available in March and will cost $59.99 to $69.99.
9to5Mac shot a short video of the product from the CES show floor (the Cashwrap representative mistakenly indicates the case will support iPhone 5 — at launch, it will support iPhone 4 and 4S):
When Isis launched in October, some questioned the viability of the payment platform and whether or not it was addressing a real problem. In a report at Consumer Reports, Jeff Blyskal concluded: “Isis, like Google Wallet, still seems to require a lot of work and needless complexity for the questionable convenience of paying by cell phone.” Now, on top of the complexity and questionable convenience of NFC payment, iPhone users must not only attach an appendage to the phone, but fork over a not-so-insignificant amount of cash — all for a payment platform that’s only available in Salt Lake City and Austin, and only at select retailers.
At Telecoms.com, Elliott Holley covered a recent report by financial research firm Celent that says the issues NFC payment technology has faced thus far are only going to be compounded in 2013 and that NFC payment solutions will be overshadowed — perhaps ultimately replaced — by cloud-based wallets. Celent senior analyst and author of the report Zilvanas Bareisis told Holley that not only is using the technology still much more difficult than swiping a credit card, but in markets such as the U.S., “the infrastructure bill is huge and convincing retailers and merchants is difficult.”
Holley highlights a key insight from the Celent report:
“Part of the problem for NFC digital wallets is that while the physical POS world is dominated by cards and the mobile equivalent is to have payment credentials inside the phone and sent to the POS via NFC, the online world is dominated by cloud-based wallets such as PayPal. That makes it difficult to bridge the online-offline convergence of customers who use their mobiles while shopping to read product reviews, compare prices and order online, or pick up an item from a local store, according to Celent.”
Apple may yet embrace NFC, mobile shopping isn't a fad, and will the mobile wallet battle come to a head in 2013?
Happy new year! Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space recently.
Apple NFC rumors revived
We’ve no sooner outfitted our shiny new iPhone 5s with cases and fancy accessories than rumors of the iPhone 6 have emerged. Matt Brian reports at The Next Web that “Apple has been testing hardware relating to a new ‘iPhone6,1’ identifier, powered by a device running iOS 7.”
There’s also renewed rumors of Apple’s intention to integrate NFC technology into the next iPhone. Mikey Campbell reports at Apple Insider that on December 20, 2012, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application filed by Apple in 2011 “for an ‘Integrated coupon storage, discovery, and redemption system,’ a property covering the receipt, storage and use of digital coupons on mobile device” — basically, what Passbook became this past year. Campbell notes that NFC capabilities also are mentioned in connection with coupon redemption, indicating “that the company is at least thinking about including the protocol in future versions of the iPhone or iPod Touch.”
Joann Pan at Mashable notes the implications such integrated technology could have on retail shopping for consumers and merchants alike. She writes:
“With Apple’s proposed ‘integrated coupon storage,’ patrons will be able to walk into stores and receive notifications about items for which they have coupons. After the transaction is complete, the customer will receive a digital receipt wirelessly. Alerts will also be pushed for coupons with impending expiration dates. The patent also mentions a verification system for coupons and discounts.”
Vodafone to launch a mobile wallet, a startup mines the science of shopper behavior, and a kickstarter campaign to bring NFC to iOS.
Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space this week.
Vodafone partners up to launch a new mobile wallet platform
Yet another mobile wallet is gearing up to hit the market in 2013. Vodafone announced a partnership with m-commerce company CorFire and digital security company Gemalto to launch the platform in the first quarter of 2013 in Germany and Spain with plans to expand across Europe, according to a report at Bloomberg.
Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch reports that the initial rollout will focus on NFC-equipped Android devices and that the services “will be compatible with the standards chosen by Weve” (formerly known as Project Oscar). According to Lomas, Dr. Jae Chung, CorFire’s president and CEO, noted the platform’s potential in a released statement: “Vodafone’s customer base spans across more than 30 countries, which means our partnership may become one of the biggest, global implementations of NFC and mobile commerce.”
James Wester at Mobile Payments Today reports that Vodafone’s plan for its more than 400 million subscribers around the globe goes beyond the mobile wallet — plans include developing the platform so that third-party service providers can access the subscriber base.
Big data and mobile are changing retail. NFC? Not so much.
Here are a few stories from the commerce space that caught my attention this week:
Mom and pops sidelined by big data?
Gary Hawkins at the Harvard Business Review took a look this week at marketing and research in the commerce space and argued that the costs associated with big data advantages may be wiping out the little guy. Hawkins writes:
“In this war for customers, the ammunition is data — and lots of it. It began with transaction data and shopper data, which remain central. Now, however, they are being augmented by demographic data, in-store video monitoring, mobile-based location data from inside and outside the store, real-time social media feeds, third-party data appends, weather, and more. Retail has entered the era of Big Data.”
Hawkins points out that this level of consumer intelligence is highly advantageous and even more expensive, thus only retailers with adequate resources (read: deep, deep pockets) can compete. Citing a study (PDF) by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, he notes that “annual industry spending on shopper marketing at over $50 billion, and growing.”
In addition to sidelining smaller retailers, the shopper marketing trend is having a more pervasive effect on the industry as a whole by changing the distribution of budgeted marketing expenditures. “Trade promotion accounted for 44% of total marketing expenditures by manufacturers in 2011, lower than any other year in the past decade,” Hawkins notes. The reason for the shift is all about the ROI — quoting Matthew Boyle of CNN Money, Hawkins writes that “the partnership of Kroger and dunnhumby ‘is generating millions in revenue by selling Kroger’s shopper data to consumer goods giants’ … It is widely understood that Kroger is realizing over $100 million annually in incremental revenue from these efforts.”
This model not only caters to large retailers over smaller retailers because of the size of their wallets, but because it’s easier for brands to interact with the corporate headquarters of a major retailer with 1,000 stores than to interact with 1,000 owners of independent stores, Hawkins writes. He goes into detail about how this business model will affect the industry on several fronts — you can read his piece in its entirety here.
The UDID story has conflicting theories, so the only real thing we have to work with is the data.
The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.
Of course that statement leaves a lot of leeway. It could be the agent’s personal laptop, and the data may well have been “property” of an another agency. The wording doesn’t even explicitly rule out the possibility that this was an agency laptop, they just say that right now they don’t have any evidence to suggest that it was.
This limited data release doesn’t have much impact, but the possible release of the full dataset, which is claimed to include names, addresses, phone numbers and other identifying information, is far more worrying.
While there are some almost dismissing the issue out of hand, the real issues here are: Where did the data originate? Which devices did it come from and what kind of users does this data represent? Is this data from a cross-section of the population, or a specifically targeted demographic? Does it originate within the law enforcement community, or from an external developer? What was the purpose of the data, and why was it collected?
With conflicting stories from all sides, the only thing we can believe is the data itself. The 40-character strings in the release at least look like UDID numbers, and anecdotally at least we have a third-party confirmation that this really is valid UDID data. We therefore have to proceed at this point as if this is real data. While there is a possibility that some, most, or all of the data is falsified, that’s looking unlikely from where we’re standing standing at the moment.
Jon Manning and Paris Buttfield-Addison share their insight on what's new with Objective-C and Cocoa
Key points from the full video (below) interview include:
- Embrace Objective-C’s verbosity [Discussed at the 0:30 mark]
- Just getting started with Objective-C? Check out the WWDC videos and… [Discussed at the 1:45 mark]
- Long awaited updates to Objective-C make a big impact [Discussed at the 2:27 mark]
- When it comes time to submit your app to the App Store, think about it as Apple would [Discussed at the 3:47 mark]
You can view the entire interview in the following video.