This post is going to be a lengthy one, so grab your favorite beverage. iOS 7 really did a number to the FloJack. The issues we’re seeing are bigger than just a few tweaks here and there. NFC Actions is broken and, after buckling down for the last few weeks, we’ve had to come to grips with the realization that fixing it is not optimal. It’s been well documented that the iOS 7’s audio subsystem has radically changed and it’s likely it will happen again. The following video highlights some of the compatibility issues we’re seeing:
Compatibility is a common problem with the audio jack-based accessories as noted in the following links:
Bank of America Mobile Pay
The best long term solution for both you and us is investing our resources into something more standardized. NFC is alive and well, we’re only looking to guarantee ubiquity – doing so via the audio jack was originally our best option. But every device is different, requiring extreme compatibility efforts to get the Flojack to perform. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a new technology that’s based on the well-known Bluetooth specification and has been gaining a lot of momentum this year. It’s standardized and therefore compatibility with new devices will never be an issue.
The FloJacks out there still work, there’s simply not an app for iOS 7. The only thing holding us back is supporting the FloJack’s audio interface. We’ve released our SDK and we welcome development but, moving forward, the compatibility between iOS 7 and NFC Actions is not Flomio’s top priority. We have decided it best for both our customers and our stakeholders to shift our focus to developing a BLE compatible device.
The cost of integrating BLE is one we will have to shoulder. The money from the Kickstarter campaign went solely toward the development of the FloJack. The new development will involve further investment on our part while costing our backers nothing. These faithful supporters will receive the new device at no addition cost.
Accounting for every different device is not sustainable. Three years ago, the FloJack would have been the cat’s meow. NFC was new, it was exciting, it was to be the next big thing. At any point in time the new iPhone could have had NFC built in or, as it turned out, something totally different. We’re passionate about digital-to-physical technologies and things continue to heat up in this space.
At this juncture, it makes more sense to pivot toward a BLE compatible interface. The hard part is done, we have the NFC messaging protocols defined, we have the mobile app skeletons in place, we have the read/write NDEF parsers completed, we just need to finish the new device and publish an app. Apple has released a BLE (iBeacons) API to foster development and we’ve become familiar with it. We are excited with the new stability it will offer and expect the new units to begin shipping Q1 2014.
It’s been a year since we announced the FloJack. After so much work and with so much at stake it’s a tough call to change direction. We don’t make a decision like this lightly and we expect some colorful feedback from our community. We’re amped for it actually, because we know this is the right thing to do. You’ve supported us this long so we owe you the best solution technology can provide.
-Richard and the Flomies
PS. Still not clear? Check out our frequently asked questions below.
Moved on? What does that mean?
We’re in the process of retooling the FloJack to connect to host devices via BLE. NFC read/write functionality will remain.
The biggest issue with the audio jack is compatibility. BLE is a common standard across all Bluetooth 4.0 enabled devices (PCs, cell phones and most other digital devices). Apple has this uncanny ability to dictate the direction of the market and we, as developers, must adjust. We will be posting a more in-depth BLE guide in the next week.
My FloJack blinks 16 times and then nothing. What gives?
The 16 blinks are part of the FloJack’s calibration sequence. It means your FloJack works but NFC Actions is unable to send the “wake up” command so the FloJack remains asleep. The reality is that unless you develop your own app using our SDK, you won’t be able to do much with the FloJack.
Can I get my money back?
The money we raised has been depleted in the development, manufacturing and deployment of the current design. We will still send you a FloJack, if you want it, however we only recommend developers choose this option. If you wish to return your FloJack in exchange for a new device, please continue to the next FAQ.
I’ve received my FloJack, what does this news mean to me?
We want to bring the BLE experience to everyone, so we invite you to return your FloJack and we’ll put you back in line for the new wireless device we are developing. Please send us an email.
I have paid for a FloJack but I haven’t received it, what’s going to happen to me?
Well, we can still send your FloJack(s) or you may opt to retain your spot in line and be among the first to receive the new BLE-enabled device we have in development at no extra cost.
What will I get for my original pledge when I send the FloJacks back (there is no use for 2 different types of hardware when you go for BLE)?
Developers have the option to keep their Flojacks and work on iOS 6 and Android. It’s your choice whether you want to swap them or not.
How sure are you that you are able to get the investors to get this new BLE versions developed?
We have secured new funding for the re-engineering of the FloJack to support BLE.
How will the people know that this new project will succeed?
We delivered on our promise to manufacture a device that works with iOS 6. The device works for those developers that take the time to integrate the SDK into an app. I suspect that people will see the potential of a simpler and more functional NFC reader that connects wirelessly to their iOS device.
Didn’t the new iphone 5’s come with NFC though?
Nope, iPhone5s added TouchID which it based on camera tech, not RFID/NFC.
Isn’t that something that is going to be standardized eventually?
NFC is a standard but not one that has been adopted by all device manufacturers just yet. We’re certain that RFID and NFC will always be around, but it may take some time before it’s as ubiquitous as Bluetooth is in the consumer space.
Why break into the Bluetooth department?
The biggest issue with Bluetooth had always been it’s high power consumption. Bluetooth4.0 introduced a Low Energy specification (referred to as Bluetooth Smart or BLE) that addresses the power problem. So now you can track a device with a coin cell battery for up to 2 years and at a range of 50ft or so… that’s an incredibly powerful feature and one that all of our apps, cloud infrastructure, and community followers align with. It’s a sensible choice to support it. In essence Flomio is a Micro-Location Services company with NFC, RFID, and BLE products to offer it’s customer base.