Google's Android development team improved near field communications capabilities in the fresh Android 2.3.3 build. Now we need mobile payment apps that will work on it.
Google Feb. 9 improved the near field communications capabilities
in its Android 2.3 operating system, the latest move by a company intent on seizing
on the mobile payment boon.
Near field communications, or NFC, triggers the exchange
of data between two devices placed within a few inches of one another. For
example, a user might put a mobile phone equipped with NFC sensors up to a
poster or ad to scan it for more info.
Smartphones in Asia and Europe include NFC sensors, controller
chips and other software to allow consumers to swipe their phones again payment
terminals to pay for goods. This is particularly popular for public transport
systems, such as subways, where travelers swipe their phone against a terminal
to ride the rails.
This practice has been slow to catch on in the United States, but analysts
expect it could soar to be a multi-billion-dollar business if implemented en
Google in December moved to thrust NFC into the mainstream
it in its Android 2.3 build, which powers the Samsung Nexus S
smartphone. However, the software was incomplete.
Google accelerated its NFC progress by adding an NFC
reader/writer API to the fresh Android 2.3.3 build that lets apps interact with
more types of tags in new ways. Previously, Android 2.3 only supporting reading
There is also now limited support for peer-to-peer
connection with other NFC devices.
Also, the Android team dropped in "advanced Intent
dispatching," to give apps more control over how/when they are launched
when an NFC tag comes into range,
Android platform lead Xavier Ducrohet. Google has a detailed overview
of Android 2.3.3 here
The refresh, whose value will only be demonstrated in mobile apps Android developers craft, comes as Google is reportedly building
a mobile payment service centered on NFC capabilities it
developed in-house after the August acquisition of Zetawire.
The mobile payment stakes are high. Those who can get it
right stand to keep customers, and their billing data, nestled comfortably in
their platforms for years to come.
To wit, Apple is also working
to bring NFC capabilities to its iPad 2 and iPhone 5, and RIM plans to
have a play here as well this year. eBay's PayPal unit is also pushing mobile