Octopus Cards Ltd have today released their official NFC card reader application for Android devices, OctoCheck. Octopus cards are used across the Hong Kong public transport system for smooth contactless ticketing, in a similar way to London's Oyster cards. This Android application will allow the user to register and view the balance and recent journey information of up to 20 Octopus cards.

What's interesting about this application is that, unlike existing solutions, it does not seem to read the Octopus balance from data stored on the actual contactless card. Instead, OctoCheck uses the card's individual Octopus number (which the user must manually enter into the application) to pull data from Octopus' servers. This means that the application will be of little use to those without cellular or WiFi internet connections. However, the application's FAQ states that 'all other card reading apps may not display the correct remaining value of your Octopus', a statement which can be assumed to be in reference to applications such as Octopus Balance Reader.

It should also be noted that this application will allow users to view details of the last 10 transactions made with the Octopus card, including journey locations. This was previously impossible without visiting a physical Octopus-approved location, or purchasing a separate Octopus-branded USB reader for a PC.

It's encouraging to see a public transport enabler embracing the NFC capabilities of modern Android devices; perhaps this will encourage TfL to provide an official equivalent for Oyster users?

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