I know it seems like we spend all our time covering wireless technology, but I promise we aren’t! The reason we have gone into such depths about this exciting technology is because it has gained so much tract these past few months that we can’t not help but be bombarded with information on it.
Apple’s new iPhones support wireless charging, everyone by now should know that – it’s a feature that has been slowly gaining popularity in recent years, however the Qi standard has been kicking around the mobile world for about 8 years now, welcome to the party Apple!
Wireless headphones are nothing new, Bluetooth has been able to carry audio since the early days. Trust Apple though, to take this technology to the extreme with the AirPods, they don’t even have a wire connecting the two ear plugs.
Pairing your handset to your headphones can be a pain, but there is a way where you can connect them wirelessly. That’s where NFC* comes in, first appearing on the Nokia 6131 in 2006. The first Android with NFC was the Nexus S and Apple later adopted the tech but in a restricted fashion.
That would be mobile payments. Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay all work over NFC. The tech is occasionally still used for pairing, but more advanced features – like sharing web pages and files – rarely see any actual use.
*What is NFC?
Simply put, it’s a method of wireless data transfer called NFC (Near field communication) that detects and then enables technology in close proximity to communicate without the need for an internet connection. It’s easy, fast and works automagically.
How does NFC work?
The tech involved is deceptively simple: evolved from radio frequency identification (RFID) tech, an NFC chip operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it’s activated by another chip, small amounts of data between the two devices can be transferred when held a few centimeters from each other.
No pairing code is necessary to link up and because it uses chips that run on very low amounts of power (or passively, using even less), it’s much more power-efficient than other wireless communication types.
At its core, NFC works to identify us by our enabled cards and devices, that includes our bank accounts.
Before Bluetooth or Wi-Fi there was Infrared. It didn’t require expensive hardware so it was embedded in many feature phones, allowing them to transfer files wirelessly. The only issue was that it was slow and only worked if you were within spitting distance of the other device.
Infrared got a second lease on life as an IR blaster, allowing phones to act like remote controls for the tech at home. That feature has been rapidly disappearing though, with “smart” appliances getting a big marketing push.
Voice commands have been available on phones for years. A new breed of voice assistants have improved the experience of commanding your phone at a distance – Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby, everyone seems to have an assistant now.
Apple is trying to make biometric authentication wireless – replacing the fingerprint reader you have to touch with FaceID you just look at. What else do you think will go wireless?