A couple of months ago, after many months of waiting, I finally received a package that was rather special to me. About a year ago, I backed one of my first Kickstarter projects, the Geode from iCache. That special package contained mine, which I had been eagerly awaiting as what I hoped would be a solution to my gigantic, overflowing wallet problem. However, the Geode turned out to be a problem itself.
Even after receiving my Geode I never actually stopped carrying around my wallet. I still always had it on me. I still used it a lot more than my Geode. I’m not getting rid of my Geode because it didn’t work – it worked fine everywhere I tried it that didn’t have a dip-style reader. It simply took a very long time to get ready for use. By the time my Geode was finally done writing all the information to the Geocard and eInk display for a loyalty card, I’ve could’ve already completed checkout using my old-fashioned, low-tech $20 wallet.
I believe Geode’s key issue right now is that it’s actually too secure. Before you can use it, you have to swipe your finger over the finger print reader located at the bottom of the device, right under your home button – which, by the way, is very easy to press by mistake when swiping your finger, causing you to have to start the process all over again of unlocking the device. Oh, and before you can even swipe you finger to unlock the Geode, you have to wait a good ten seconds or so before the prompt to even swipe appears on the screen. Once you finally have the Geode unlocked, its time to load your credit card and loyalty card to be written to the device, which thankfully takes only a few seconds to cue up. Once the cards are chosen, it’s time to write data to the eInk display and Geocard. Wait another ten seconds and the Geode is at last programmed and ready to use. Now you better hope that whatever card reader the Geocard has to be passed through can actually read the card.
The time it took you to read that last paragraph – unless you are a very fast reader – is roughly the amount of time it takes to get the Geode ready to use. In the same time, I could have completed the checkout process already. Another problem with the Geode is that it is not a device that can be easily used one-handed. You’ll need one hand to hold the Geode (and by extension, your iPhone) and your second hand to unlock it. When I go shopping, I usually have at least one of those hands full. With the Geode’s very particular fingerprint reader, it’s damn near impossible to unlock the device with one hand. My traditional wallet, on the other hand, I can use with one hand and don’t have to have a mini heart attack when I drop it as there’s no glass screen to worry about shattering, among other parts.
The Geode is also a lot better when you understand technology. It’s also a lot better when to checkout you don’t have to deal with a human cashier watching you swipe the card or swiping the card themselves. If you explain Geode to someone who understands technology, they’ll look at you very differently than someone who doesn’t. Even my NFC-enabled watch is easier to explain how it works (and yes, I can use my watch to checkout – much faster than I can with my Geode).
The Geode also works by plugging into the 30-pin dock connector of your iPhone. If you have an iPhone 5, you’re shit out of luck already. If you don’t, you know that the 30-pin dock connector is how you charge and sync your phone. Thankfully, with iOS 6 the syncing problem is solved with WiFi sync. As for charging, the Geode uses a micro USB port and comes with a charging cable. If you have a ton of micro USB cables lying around, great. On the other hand, if you’re like me and have a ton of 30-pin dock cables instead, the micro USB is a lot less attractive.
Bottom line, the Geode is a great idea, but it still needs a considerable amount of work before it will be able to replace my wallet. I’m putting it into storage in favor of my old BookBook case from 12South that I kept around. It’s much lighter, actually covers the screen, and has slots for cards too.