A rather innocuous OTA update (T989UVLH1) for T-Mobile's Galaxy S II was announced today, with a 2-line changelog that, on the surface, probably won't excite anyone:
- ISIS/NFC update
- Bug fixes
That's the whole thing. But that little Isis mention is easy to overlook - this is the first phone to officially indicate (if indirectly) support for the carrier-backed mobile payment system. Unfortunately, we don't have a T-Mobile Galaxy S II in order to check if this update actually brings the Isis app itself, or is merely in preparation for support. Either way, it implicitly confirms that this phone will be Isis-ready.
Some users on XDA are claiming this update brings Android 4.0.4, as well, but T-Mobile's own update page indicates that it's still an Android 4.0.3 build (it's entirely possible T-Mobile is wrong on this point). The update is available through Kies only.
We can extrapolate some pretty important things about Isis from this news, too. First, this confirms that Isis won't be something that ships only with new handsets. At the very least, we can probably assume that carriers will update older, more popular handsets to support the system, and that's a pretty big deal. Carriers backing the Isis system include T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon (Sprint is maybe making its own system) - to the tune of a combined $100 million-plus investment into the company. Microsoft has announced Windows Phone 8 will support the standard out of the box.
Isis also has deals for point of sale support with VeriFone, Ingenico, VIVOtech, and Equinox Payments - whom together control the majority of the point of sale hardware market in the United States.
It's clear that the carriers wish for Isis to become the de facto mobile payment standard here in the US, and they certainly seem to have the advantage right now, but it's a market in which competitors are springing up rapidly. A consortium of retailers worth over $1 trillion of annual commerce just announced MCX, which looks like it could be a serious force in the mobile payment landscape.
If you have the OTA update on your device, we'd love to hear if the Isis app is on-board, so be sure to let us know in the comments.