Tag Archive for ‘NFC’

The Amiibo Resistance

Last year, when I was gifted a Wii U from my wife, she bought me the Super Mario Maker bundle. Not only did it include the console and the game, but it also came with one of Nintendo’s little NFC figurines. It was the modern color 30th Anniversary Mario Amiibo and could be used to unlock the Big Mushroom power-up in Super Mario Maker.

After unlocking the power up in Mario Maker, I set the figurine on a bookshelf and haven’t touched it since. I have been aware of Nintendo’s lineup of Amiibo since before we had the console, but I’ve done my best to avoid it. The figurines can be used to unlock new features in certain games and are generally pretty neat looking.

The main reason I’ve resisted the urge to purchase a second Amiibo — or even browse the lineup — is because I’m quite susceptible to the collector’s mentality. It’s a slippery slope for me. My history with Pokémon cards and Magic: the Gathering has taught me that I can’t just own a few. As soon as I buy another Amiibo, I’ll find three or four more that I just need to have.

But a few of weeks ago I bought Splatoon on Nintendo’s eShop. I quickly fell in love with the game and have been playing it steadily ever since. Here’s what I wrote after just a week of play:

It’s essentially a cartoony paintball game in which you and your three teammates try to cover as much of the level in your color paint as possible. Along the way you can disrupt the other team by “splatting” their players and forcing them to respawn at their starting point.

There’s new weapons and clothing accessories that feature special abilities and increased power that you can unlock by leveling up. There’s other game modes to play as well, but I’ve been having too much fun with the normal “Turf Mode” to explore the other options.

Since then I’ve unlocked nearly every weapon in the game, beaten the single-player campaign, and played my fair share of “ranked” matches — Tower Control and Rainmaker being my favorite modes. But there’s one area of the game that has alluded me — the Amiibo challenges.

Nintendo has released a series of Amiibo specifically for Splatoon. It features the Inkling Boy, Inkling Girl, and Inkling Squid, which unlock weapons and accessories that aren’t available through any other means. They’ve also recently released Callie and Marie figures that can be used to change the appearance and music of the game’s main hub area.

Last week, I did a little research to find out what each of the Amiibo unlocks and I ended up buying just the Inkling Boy from Amazon. It gives me access to the weapon and accessories I’m most interested in without tripling or quadrupling the size of my Amiibo collection — as the multi-packs would.

I’m still a little afraid that this is going to get out of control. I haven’t even received delivery of my second Amiibo and I already have a handful of them in mind that I want to purchase — like Waluigi, obviously. I’ll do my best to stay strong and resist the urge to continue adding to my collection. But don’t be surprised to find me with dozens of these things, strewn about various shelves throughout my apartment, in only a few months.

Square Announces New Card Reader ➝

The new reader costs $49 and has support for chip cards, Apple Pay, and and other contactless payments.

Apple Pay

Sandwiched in-between the two hardware announcements that Apple made on Tuesday they spent some time talking about a new service called Apple Pay. Apple Pay is a new payment option that uses NFC built into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to make purchases in retail stores and iOS applications that make use of new APIs in iOS 8.

Apple took a different approach than most other companies have when they built Apple Pay. It doesn’t seem focused on making the company money, but instead is focused on creating a better user experience. Security and usability are the two key points that Eddy Cue emphasized during his presentation on stage. And with Target’s credit card fiasco still fresh in everyone’s mind and news of Home Depot’s recent credit card breach, this announcement coincidentally comes at a time when everyone is thinking more seriously about security in regards to their credit and debit cards.

When you setup Apple Pay on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus you’ll be given the option to add your credit card that you already have on file for iTunes. If you’d like to add new cards the application prompts you to take a picture of your card from within the app, Apple then verifies that the card is yours, and adds it to Passbook as an Apple Pay option.

From a security standpoint, your iPhone doesn’t actually save your card information, instead saving device-specific account numbers and creating one-time card numbers and security codes each time you make a purchase. If you’re iPhone is lost or stolen you’ll be able to suspend payments on the device with Find My iPhone. And there’s no need to cancel your credit card, because the phone doesn’t save your actual account information.

I consider Apple Pay to be the most thoughtfully designed payment service available. It’s highly secure, easy to use, and simple to manage. But, I’m not sold on the whole “pay with your device” concept and never have been.

I’ve worked in retail for six years and can assure you that digging a credit card out of your purse or wallet isn’t going to take any longer than digging your phone out of your purse or pocket. The video that Tim Cook played on stage of a women at the cash register was a gross exaggeration of how long it takes to pay with a credit card. Many people will perceive Apple Pay as a quicker option at checkout than paying with their credit card. But, if you have your card ready when you get to the cashier, it’s just as quick to swipe your card and hit the green button as it would be to hold your iPhone up to the scanner with your thumb on the home button.

I loved what Eddy Cue said on stage about privacy, though:

So when you go to a physical location and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank. And the cashier doesn’t get to see your name, credit card number, or security code, like they do today when you hand them a plastic card.

I’m a little concerned about that “when you go to a physical location” qualifier but this is definitely reassuring to anyone who was worried about privacy with Apple Pay. “We are not in the business of collecting your data” is a pretty good concept to pitch in a world where nearly every other tech company is in the business of collecting your data.

I joked on Twitter during the keynote that “now my credit card has a battery life.” Which was obviously said in jest but could actually be a concern for Apple Pay users. An early morning rise into a late night out with friends could become problematic when you go to buy another drink and your iPhone’s battery is dead. This can’t be the only form of payment you carry with you for this very reason.

I think Apple Pay will succeed — a lot of people are excited about it and it is more thoughtfully executed than any other competing solution on the market. But, I’m going to give it two or three years before I decide whether or not its something I’d want to use myself. Until then I’ll stick with my trusty debit card and the occasional few paper bills that end up in my wallet from time to time.

The Independent: Apple Rejects NFC for New iPhone ➝

Nick Clark:

Sources at several of the largest mobile operators in the UK revealed Apple had disclosed in meetings that it would not be including Near Field Communication (NFC) technology – which enables payment for products with a wave of your phone on a reader – in the latest version of the iPhone, be it the iPhone 4GS or the iPhone 5.

I’m happy about this. I know that most other tech writers think NFC to be a fantastic way to pay for things, I simply don’t like the idea. Carrying around one card isn’t much of a hassle and I don’t want to put too many eggs in one basket when it comes to security.

It already amazes me just how much information could be gathered by a thief who got a hold of my phone, I don’t want him to be able to make purchases as well.