The new version of the Open Mobile API is designed to enable app developers to work easily with the secure elements in mobile phones — without needing specialist knowledge of how the technology works.
The SIMalliance has released an update to its Open Mobile API, with the aim of making it easier for mobile app developers to incorporate secure element functionality in their programs.
The first edition of the Open Mobile API was released in April this year and has already been incorporated into Android NFC devices as a way for the application to access the secure element in an Android NFC phone.
Version two is designed to make the process of working with secure elements more simple for developers, Frédéric Vasnier, chairman of the board of the SIMalliance, told NFC World. Although version one aimed to allow secure NFC programs to be written without any knowledge of secure element technology, Vasnier explained, familiarity with how secure elements work was, in practice, still required.
The new version, Open Mobile API Release 2, uses feedback from developers as well as from handset and operating system suppliers to make the process much simpler and to allow any app developer to take advantage of secure element technology.
As well as making it easy to include calls to a secure element within a program, the Open Mobile API is also designed to work across multiple handsets and operating systems as well as different types of secure element, enabling programmers to write code once and use it multiple times.
"By choosing to implement the Open Mobile API, handset manufacturers will be able to enrich their application portfolios through the introduction of a host of mobile services that demand the highest levels of security and identity protection afforded by the secure element," says the trade association.
"For developers this common API eliminates the need to re-engineer applications to each specific device by delivering a single, consistent specification and interface across multiple operating systems," the association adds.
As well as NFC applications, the Open Mobile API also offers ways to secure a wide range of other services for non-NFC phones, such as encrypting emails and protecting person-to-person funds transfers.
"The importance, and the adoption, of secure elements in the device is now beyond question," Vasnier explains. "The challenge for the developer community has always been how to access SEs to fully secure their services in the most straightforward manner. With the launch of the SIMalliance Open Mobile API Release 2 that barrier has now been removed and will stimulate the creation of a host of new payment, loyalty and identity management services."
Open Mobile API Release 2 can be downloaded free of charge from the SIMalliance's website. The association is also hosting a webinar and releasing a white paper, "Secure Authentication for Mobile Internet Services — Critical Considerations," on 1 December.