Google CEO Eric Schmidt just announced on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit that the next version of Android, code-named Ginger Bread, will include native support for what's called Near Field Communication, or NFC. NFC is a short-range, high-frequency wireless technology which lets devices, primarily mobile phones, communicate with other NFC devices in order to exchange data.
As ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez explained in her coverage of Apple's NFC moves this Summer, this allows for a number of applications including mobile ticketing, mobile payment, e-money, electronic keys, smart billboards and more. Apple has filed a number of NFC patents, but the technology is expected to drive growth throughout the mobile market. Native NFC support in Android now is a big deal.
Nokia and Symbian have both been reported to be set to launch NFC technology early next year as well.
Mobile commerce, "tap to pay," was the primary use-case discussed by Schmidt, but Tim O'Reilly pointed out on stage that the technology is really capable of transmitting any kind of information. "Bump, for everything," he called it. Schmidt concurred.
Hopefully Gingerbread will include a healthy API for access to the NFC technology and developers will see opportunities to build more than just commerce systems. Schmidt said on stage today that the Gingerbread release date will be within the next two weeks.