Of all of the potential applications of near field communications (NFC) technology, the one we hear the most excitement about these days is mobile payments. And while everybody from tech giants to analysts is predicting that we'll soon be paying for things by waving our phones, this is far from the only current use of the technology.
Mobile gaming is another space that is seeing the effects of NFC. In June, Rovio announced the launch of Angry Birds Magic, which connects the company's popular mobile game to the physical world using NFC and GPS. Players using supported devices can tap their phones together or wave them in front of Angry Birds NFC stickers to unlock new levels and birds in the game.
The latest game to get the NFC treatment is Fruit Ninja, another very hot game for iOS and other mobile platforms. A new NFC-enhanced version of the game will come preloaded onto some of Nokia's new handsets, according to NFC World. The Nokia 701, Nokia 700 and Nokia 600 will run an updated version of the Symbian operating system that includes deep integration with NFC.
Like Angry Birds, this new version of Fruit Ninja will enable players to unlock features - in this case, shiny new blades with which to massacre fruit.
For now, this feature will only be available on a handful new Nokia devices, so its impact won't be huge. But as more devices roll out NFC integration, we can safely expect to see more support for the technology within mobile games.
NFC has found its way onto the newest fleet of Blackberry Curve devices as well as a few new Bada-based phones from Samsung. Android got its first NFC-enabled device last year with the Samsung Nexus S and others have followed. Rumors about an NFC-friendly iPhone still circulate, although there's no hard evidence that the technology will be included in the iPhone 5, which is widely rumored to be launching as soon as next month.
It's still early in the game in terms of smartphone support for NFC, but we're getting there. Once the technology is baked into handsets running iOS and Android, unlocking new fruit swords will merely be the tip of the iceberg.