Singapore-based developer Ridzuan Ashim spotted NFC support for tag reading in the Android application for Google Plus, the new social networking service launched into private beta only days ago. NFC, short for near field communication, is a wireless technology that enables data exchanges over short distances. The technology is currently present in a small subset of phones, including some Nokia devices, Google's own Samsung-built Nexus S, variants of the Samsung Galaxy S II and others.

But what is NFC doing in the Google Plus app?

Video Demo of NFC in Google Plus

In the video posted by Ashim, he demonstrates how NFC makes sharing easy within the social networking service. Using a Nexus S, he scans an NFC tag containing the "text" record type, which is one of the four specific RTD's (Record Type Definitions) defined by the non-profit industry association NFC Forum. This specification describes how text content can be stored within an NFC tag.

When scanned, the text stored in the tag automatically populates the "Share your thoughts" screen in the Google Plus Android app, which is typically used to post personal status updates to Google Plus.

What's the benefit of such a thing, besides being a clever little trick? For now, that's all it is, but it indicates that NFC will likely grow to become an important part of the Google Plus social network in the future. More practical uses for the technology, when more widely supported by handset makers, would be for tasks like performing check-ins (i.e., registering your arrival at a location), sharing contact info with others, "friending" Google Plus users and navigating to particular pages.

Google Plus Features that Could be NFC-Enabled

A couple of these features are already in the works, as it turns out. The blog AboutFoursquare.com recently found that the Android application offers a feature called "Google Check-ins," accessed by tapping the checkmark icon on the "Stream" page of the Android app. This feature is built on top of Google's location-based service Latitude, which introduced check-ins in February, but lacks the Latitude branding, it seems. Users who check in by way of this service can post that check in directly to their stream on Google Plus, limiting its visibility by Circles (groups), if desired. Google Check-ins would be Google's direct counterpart to Facebook's Places, and could easily be NFC-enabled in the future.

Business pages, the Google equivalent to Facebook Pages, have also been promised in Google Plus, reports Mike Blumenthal, referring to a comment left by Google VP of Local and Commerce on Blumenthal's blog:

"...yes, we will have (SMB) business profile page on Google Plus. I can't announce a launch date yet, but we want to make them great, and we're coding as fast as we can."

Putting it all together, it becomes clear that the current NFC support discovered in the Google Plus Android app is only the beginning. Future updates to the app could expand the support to enable things like NFC-based check-ins, or NFC smart posters that link to business pages. Oh wait, Google already has those. It makes sense that this could then be tied into the Google Plus service, like so:

Tap a poster, visit the Google Place page, check in at the business, share to Google Plus.

Yes, that would work.

For more NFC news, go here.

Additional Sources: NFCWorld, PocketNow, Blumenthals, AboutFoursquare (also image credit), Ridz.sg (also video credit)