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Mobile Distillery makes it easier to write NFC apps for multiple devices

The company’s new Celsius NFC platform enables application developers to write code once and then port it reliably to a range of NFC handsets and add-on devices.

PORTABLE: Celsius NFC allows a single source program to target many different mobile handsets
PORTABLE: Celsius NFC allows a single source program to target many different mobile handsets

Mobile Distillery, a specialist in enabling mobile applications to be written once and then ported to a wide range of mobile phones, has launched a new solution that enables developers to write a program for an NFC application and then run it on a range of NFC phones and add-on devices.

Including all the phones compatible with the NFC stickers currently supported by the platform, Celsius NFC now enables a single source code file to be used on over 200 phones, the company says. And, where the application could also be implemented using QR Codes, Celsius NFC also enables the same source to be used to create a 2D barcode version too.

“As a variety of NFC phones finally start to loom on the horizon, other solutions are appearing in the form of stickers and add-ons to existing phones, offering several different architectures for NFC application developers to target,” says Mobile Distillery. “Celsius was designed to allow one source code to create native code on different architectures, so we have created Celsius NFC which allows NFC applications to run on 200+ mobile phones.”

“Many service operators know that with the first deployments of NFC only a small proportion of consumers will have access to NFC phones,” the company adds. “Similar services to NFC tag reading can be obtained from QR Codes. With Celsius you can have one source code to treat QR Code or NFC according to the sort of phone used.”

To prove the point, Mobile Distillery has produced a video showing an NFC tag reading program created from the same source code running on both an NFC phone and a non-NFC phone equipped with Twinlinx’s MyMax sticker:

DEMONSTRATION: The same source code can be used to generate executables that work on a native NFC phone and an ordinary handset via a Twinlinx MyMax NFC sticker

Mobile Distillery has also teamed up with Inside Contactless to develop an NFC mobile application development platform called ‘Celsius for Wave-Me’. The new platform combines Mobile Distillery’s Celsius NFC with Inside’s Wave-Me Service Engine, which is a key component of the company’s Wave-Me NFC services platform due to be used in Nice and at the Pompidou Centre in Paris next year.

With Celsius for Wave-Me it will be possible to optimise the performance of NFC applications on any device employing Inside’s MicroRead NFC chip. Developers will also be able to automatically adapt their source code at compilation time to create applications that can read either QR Codes or traditional NFC tags, depending on the capabilities of the target handset. Celsius for Wave-Me licenses will be free for the development stage of any project and the first beta release is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2010.

Celsius NFC has been built as an extension to Mobile Distillery’s core Celsius product, designed to enable mobile application developers to write their source code once and then, using Celsius, convert it for use on over 1,000 different mobile phones.

Mobile Distillery does this, the company’s Tim Baker told NFCW, by conducting a detailed analysis of how each individual phone, or each NFC add-on or sticker, works and, in particular, by identifying where there are any bugs or issues with the way each implements certain standard functions.

Then, once a model of how the hardware performs has been built, the process of using the original source code to create a version of the program specifically to work with that hardware is automatic.

“For instance,” says Baker, “for the Sagem phone, we didn’t re-write the Wave Me code. We included in our machine the NFC model for this phone, plus its other features such as the different screen size and the difference in the keyboard.”

Currently, models for NFC phones from both Nokia and Sagem Wireless and for Twinlinx’s NFC sticker have been produced. Work on building a model for Tranzfinity’s Myztro device is under way and, says Baker, as new phones and add-ons are brought to market, Mobile Distillery will be adding NFC models of those to its library as well.

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