Nokia Releases Long-Awaited Symbian Update to Enable C7 NFC Features

Nokia has finally released its update to the Symbian operating system, which will turn on the NFC functionality in its C7 smartphone that started shipping 10 months ago.

Nokia today announced the release of the Symbian update, dubbed Anna, for over-the-air downloads to C7s already sold. The updates will be available this week in several countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland and India, with more to follow over the next three weeks, said Nokia today in its blog.

Although a long time in coming, the update potentially puts millions more NFC smartphones into the pockets of consumers, with some estimates placing C7 shipment figures at more than 5 million worldwide.

The update activates the NFC chip that has been in the C7 since the smartphone began shipping last October. Nokia had originally announced the forthcoming Symbian update in April, and it was expected to be available earlier.

Nokia has already begun shipping new C7s with the Symbian update onboard, though those shipments only started in recent weeks. Nokia shipped an NFC version of the phone, called the Astound, in the United States through T-Mobile USA earlier in the year.

The update improves the user interface and other features for the C7 and for other non-NFC Nokia phones, the N8, E7 and C6-01.

Nokia is battling to convince consumers that it has not abandoned the Symbian platform and in today’s announcement the Finnish handset maker said that it would introduce up to 10 new Symbian handsets over the next 12 months and reiterated that it will support the platform until 2016.

Many of the Symbian phones to be introduced in the next year are expected to support NFC, including at least some with support for secure elements. This would enable them to do secure payment and ticketing in card-emulation mode. The C7 and forthcoming Nokia N9, which runs the MeeGo platform, do not have embedded secure chips or support for SIM cards as secure elements, though the latter might be technically possible.

But the handset maker’s focus is clearly on its forthcoming phones supporting Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. Nokia and Microsoft plan to introduce NFC-enabled Windows phones, but not until next year, as NFC Times has reported. The first Nokia Windows phone will probably be out by the end of the year, but without NFC.

Nokia has been promoting features that do not require secure elements, using instead the phone to read NFC tags and communicate in peer-to-peer mode, with such applications as sharing contacts, photos, videos, and pairing the phone with accessories, said Nokia.

Nokia has been touting these so-called “open NFC” applications, which include a promotional tie-in with Rovio, maker of the popular video game, Angry Birds. The project enables users to tap their NFC phones on those of their friends or on tags in objects to unlock additional levels of the game.

Nokia this summer also launched its own online store, called the NFC Hub, to promote use of tags. The site sells tags, stickers and smart posters, and Nokia and its partners also will help small businesses and other organizations build and manage campaigns around the tags. The first such project launched late last week at two relatively small museums in London, enabling users to tap tags to get more information about exhibits and to buy tickets to future museum events.

The Symbian update and prospect for future NFC-enabled Symbian phones is welcome news for NFC developers who specialize in the Symbian platform. One is Finland-based Aditux, formerly called Red Solution Finland, which recently released an NFC app, Xchange for Nokia’s Ovi app store. It enables users to share business cards, photos and other data by touching their devices together. The contact details get exchanged by email and also are added to the contact lists of the devices.

Aditux CEO Jayden Khakurel told NFC Times the company delayed the release of the app to the Ovi store while waiting for the Anna update. App developers, in general, also have been focusing on business users rather than the mass market because of the scarcity of phones, he said.

“To drive NFC in the mass market, there is a huge need for NFC handsets,” he said. “The Symbian Anna update on Nokia C7 adds one more NFC handset in the market, even though it (the phone) has been in the market for a while.”

He added that the Anna release reassures Symbian developers that “there will be more Nokia handsets with NFC using Symbian.” That encourages them to keep developing NFC apps for the platform.

 

HEADLINE NEWS

More Transit Authorities and Operators, Including Those in UK, to Support Google Pay

Nov 6 2019

NFC TIMES Exclusive – San Francisco Bay Area transit authority MTC has confirmed to NFC Times that it will support mobile payments with its closed-loop Clipper transit card, including with Google Pay, by the end of 2020.

NFC Wallets Make Up Growing Share of Contactless Payments on London Transit

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Use of NFC wallets continues to steadily increase as part of Transport for London’s landmark contactless payments service, with payments from NFC-enabled smartphones and smartwatches now accounting for 20% of all contactless payments, NFC Times has learned. 

Market Research Firm: Apple Pay Surpasses Starbucks App in Users in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight –Apple Pay, which launched its mobile payments service five years ago this week in the U.S., has so far failed to live up to expectations with the service, either in the U.S. or globally, in terms of users and transactions.

Cubic Strikes Deal with Google to Enable Closed-Loop Transit Payments in Google Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – In a move that could enable more large transit agencies to offer NFC mobile payments with their closed-loop transit cards, U.S.-based Cubic Transportation Systems has signed an agreement with Google to integrate contactless transit cards with Google Pay. Among the agencies planning to support the service are those serving Google’s home base in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. 

In-Depth: Persistent Consumer Security Fears about Mobile Payments Prove Difficult to Dislodge

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Results of yet another survey has shown that a significant percentage of U.S. consumers continue to harbor security fears about using their smartphones for payments, a stubborn problem that has hindered growth of mobile payments from the beginning.

Mobile Suica Still Accounts for Disappointing Share of Suica Users and Transactions in Japan

NFC TIMES Exclusive – While Apple Pay next month will mark the 5th anniversary since its launch in the U.S., there is another contactless-mobile payments service that is three times as old as Apple Pay–Japan’s Osaifu-Keitai, or wallet phones, which this year turned 15. 

Rome Latest Transit System to Launch Open-Loop Fare Collection; also Enables Monthly Passes with EMV Cards

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Rome has become the second major city in Italy–and one of a small but growing number of large cities globally–to enable riders to pay transit fares with EMV contactless credit, debit and prepaid cards and NFC devices.

Vivo Last of Major Chinese Smartphone Makers to Officially Launch NFC Pays Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Vivo, China’s second largest smartphone maker, made it official this week, launching its NFC-enabled “vivo Pay” wallet, the last of the major Chinese phone OEMs to roll out NFC payments–though their use has been disappointing, at least for payments in stores.

In-Depth: Fit Pay’s Troubles Indicate Difficult Business Case for Provisioning to Wearables

Sep 19 2019

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight –  Given the poor financial results of U.S.-based Fit Pay, it’s becoming clear that the business case for provisioning of payment cards to wearable devices remains difficult.

Analysis: Chase Pay Latest Bank Wallet to Shut Down; Why Did They Fail?

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Plans disclosed this week by JPMorgan Chase to shut down its Chase Pay app for in-store purchases is yet another nail in the coffin–perhaps the final one–for bank wallets in the U.S. And the situation does not look much brighter for bank-issued wallets abroad.

Miami Latest U.S. City to Introduce Open-Loop Transit Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight Transit officials in Miami-Dade County, Fla. are the latest in the U.S. to introduce open-loop payments of fares with contactless credit and debit cards and bank card credentials on NFC wallets, launching the service yesterday on the city's relatively small metro network, with plans to expand to buses later.

UK Tram Riders Take to Tapping with NFC phones to Pay for Fares, According to Early Results

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Transport for Greater Manchester, which last month launched open-loop payments on its large Metrolink tram network, said Thursday that contactless credit and debit cards and NFC wallets accounted for a combined 170,000 rides during the first four weeks of the service.