Replace the traditional business card with this simple accessory.
One of the greatest annoyances to me in this modern digital era we live in is the exchange of business cards at conferences. Is it convenient? Yes – but it is a waste of resources. I know that when my fiance came home from CES (when it was held in person), he amassed a pile of business cards that we then had to go through, organize, and transfer to a digital medium to be able to keep track of them all. We live in a world where most people in that conference environment have access to a smartphone. So, why not use it to its fullest potential? The answer is that people use different operating systems. When I, an iPhone user, come in contact with another iPhone user, there is no problem sharing contacts through AirDrop. But, when I, an iPhone user, come into contact with an Android user, we have to go through extra steps to exchange information digitally. This is what Popl is good for. Popl is a contact sharing accessory that makes it possible for users of any smartphone to connect quickly and easily without the need for a business card.
Popl was founded by two UCLA graduates who had the vision to replace business cards. What was created was a small tag that is placed on the back of your phone (or anywhere) that transfers data to a receiving phone through near field communication (NFC). Because Popl is an NFC tag, the receiver of the information doesn’t need a Popl or even an app to access the information that is being transmitted to them. All that is needed is an NFC compatible smartphone. If the person doesn’t have an NFC compatible smartphone, the sender can generate a QR Code from their Popl app that can be scanned by the receiver. You can even use your Popl profile with Apple Wallet. You simply add your Popl QR card to your Apple Wallet for fast sharing of the information.
The data stays private and secure and no passwords are ever transmitted. In fact, the only information that is provided to the receiver is what the sender inputs into the app. For the most part, it is just a link to a social media profile. The Popl tag was designed to be durable and compact. It’s about the size of a quarter and adheres to surfaces using 3M adhesive. For the most part, the tag lays flat, but it is slightly raised for aesthetic purposes.
Using Popl is free, but the tag is $19.99 (on sale through popl.co for $12.99 at the time of writing this review). In addition to the traditional Popl tag, users can buy the Popl band or Popl keychain, too. The app gives you the ability to enter your personal information, edit your profile, activate Popl tags, read a Popl, produce your custom Popl QR Code, purchase additional Popls, instruct you how to use Popl, and, if you choose to, purchase the Pro features of Popl. According to information released in November 2020, “the new subscription service lets users create two unique profiles – one social, one business – and adds new features including multiple links, analytics, and new community-based mapping features to the Popl experience.” Some of the additional features of the pro service include:
- Multiple Accounts: Say goodbye to the one @account limit per app. Have multiple Instagrams? We got you!
- Custom Titles: Your links, your choices. Name them what you like, no more static titles.
- Pro Analytics: See pops, profile views, link analytics and more with Pro analytics page.
- Pop Map: See exactly where you met each of your connections and reference them by location.
- Popl Ambassador Integration: Popl Ambassadors can now include their referral code to get paid whenever someone buys a Popl from their profile.
- New Channels to Share: Popl Pro users will also have access to eight new popular channels to link to their profile, including Calendly, Discord, Apple Podcasts, FaceTime, OnlyFans, Tinder, and more.
My Popl tags arrived attached to a postcard with the Popl logo stamped on the front. I’m not sure if this is how Popl ships all their products, but it is reminiscent of what you might find at a trade show. The tag was stuck to the front of the card with some glue and instructions for use were printed on the back. There was a QR Code printed on the back which should have led me straight to the download link for the app, but my iPhone didn’t detect the code. I was able to find the app easily in the App Store so it wasn’t a problem.
The app is really nicely designed. It’s user-friendly and intuitive. I was able to get through the set-up of the Popl within a few minutes. The first thing you are asked to do is to set up your Popl. You create your profile by entering your email address and a password. Then, you grant permissions for location use and create a username. Once that step is complete, you will fill in the rest of your profile, which is a bio, gender, date of birth, profile picture, and all the accounts you want to be linked to your profile. As described above, there are two account types – social and business. The Business option is only available if you subscribe to the Pro version of the app. There are also certain account options that are only available for the Pro subscription such as custom links, Podcasts, Calendely, Only Fans, Tinder, Discord, and Yelp. Once you are done entering your profile information, you tap on “save profile” and then you are ready to start sharing your Popl profile with others.
Because you are supposed to be able to share with anyone regardless of whether or not they have the app or a Popl account, I walked down the hallway to where my fiance was and tried tapping my phone to his to see what the experience would be like. We both have iPhone 12 Pros. Once his phone picked up the NFC signal, a notification popped up for him to open a webpage. The webpage was my Popl Profile. I switched the Popl Direct option on and the only link being provided was to my Instagram page. I was curious to see if that would trigger his iPhone to open the Instagram app or if it would just open on his web browser. Again I tapped my phone to his and sure enough, a weblink notification popped up and it took him straight to my Instagram page. We wondered how long the Popl tag would last and while there isn’t much information on that particular feature point of the device, the website (popl.co) does state, “Your Popl is waterproof and will work indefinitely with an unlimited number of pops.” So, that leads me to believe that unless it malfunctions, the tag should work as long as you have it.
The instructions for the iPhone tell you to place the Popl on the bottom of the phone. In the FAQ section of the Popl website, you will find out why. It says, “Place your Popl on the bottom of your phone. If you place it at the top, it will set off your phone’s reader constantly!” Of course, I wanted to see what would happen, so I placed the Popl next to my camera lenses at the top of the phone. My phone was not set off ‘all the time’, but I did find that the Wallet app was continually triggered. That problem stopped as soon as I moved the Popl to the bottom of the phone. Another benefit of sticking it to the bottom of your phone is that the phone remains compatible with wireless charging. I did notice that the 3M Adhesive doesn’t adhere very well to the smooth surface of the iPhone 12 Pro. Fortunately, one of the nice things about this tiny accessory is that you don’t have to place it on your phone. You could create a business card designed for scanning and then place the Popl on it. It doesn’t even have to be next to your phone to work.
I found the Popl to be a unique way to transfer data between two phones. I like the concept of it being stuck to your phone but would like it better if Popl would create an option that was actually built into a phone case so that you don’t have a bump on your phone. I love that Popl has been developed into other products like the keychains and wrist bands so I would think a case wouldn’t be too far off. The technology is great and being able to set-up and customize a personal information profile is magical. I can’t wait to see what Popl develops next.