Near field communications, also known as good-ole NFC, was one of a handful of rages in 2011.
You couldn't read a story about mobile payment systems without seeing NFC as one of the keywords, which is ironic because NFC-based mobile payment systems haven't exactly taken off. I'm looking at you Google Wallet.
What we do have are more practical, low-risk information use cases. These, too, are based on Google's Android platform. Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" includes NFC capabilities.
The first major app to leverage this functionality is Android Beam, which lets users tap two ICS phones together to share YouTube videos, applications and other content between handsets.
I've seen this done on two Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphones. Pretty neat. Good for kids or friends who want to share digital stuff.
The second cool app I've seen just launched on HP's Envy 14 Spectre Ultrabook, which at $1,400 sits at the high end of Ultrabook systems.
The plainly named Touch to Share is an app designed for NFC-fitted Android smartphones and tablets that lets users shuttle the last Website they were viewing on their mobile device to their Envy Ultrabook.
Now that's data portability. Users can download the app from the Android Market to their smartphone or tablet, tap to complete the setup with their HP machine
Once set up, users will be able to share URLS from the phone or tablet by tapping their gadget to the left side of the Envy's palm rest. But users won't be able to share photos, music or other content. So it's got some serious limitations, even if it's a start.
What this shows is that, despite all of the high-minded talk about Google Wallet, Isis, PayPal and every other vendor that has discussed or mulled mobile payments with the short-range wireless technology, we're really not there yet.