Home In Japan, Twitter Users “Tap to Follow” Friends Using NFC

In Japan, Twitter Users “Tap to Follow” Friends Using NFC

Japan’s largest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo and Twitter have announced a partnership that allows the operator access to Twitter’s database. As a part of the deal, users will be able to tap phones in order to follow each other on Twitter. The operator will also integrate Twitter updates and other related content in its feature phone portal called i-mode and on its smartphone portal, the DoCoMo Market. In total, the new integrations will reach 58 million NTT DoCoMo customers in Japan.

Although not part of the press release, a Twitter-based location-based alerting service is in the works too, according to reports. This service will involve harvesting tweets to alert Twitter users about local events and places, among other things.

A Twitter Alert Service

The location-based alerting service will involve the collection of public Twitter updates, but with the personal information removed. Twitter will be responsible for anonymizing this data before turning it over to the NTT DoCoMo. The software involved, expected to launch this winter, will initially run only on phones from the carrier itself.

This is an important partnership for Twitter, which is a hugely popular service in Japan at present. There are currently around 17.57 million Twitter users in Japan, and as we reported back in April, roughly 25% of all tweets now come from Japan alone. The service is more popular than Facebook in that country, The New York Times reported last year. One Japanese operator, SoftBank, even offers some phones with a dedicated Twitter application pre-installed on the home screen.

How NFC is Being Used with Twitter in Japan…and Elsewhere

Of course, the piece of this news we’re most interested in (and extremely jealous of) is the NFC-enabled “tap to follow” functionality which will soon arrive in Japan.

NFC, or near field communication, is a short range wireless technology that allows for the exchange of data between two devices. It’s an enabling technology for the many upcoming mobile payment systems which will allow users to pay for purchases at point-of-sale, instead of with a credit or debit card. Just this week, Visa announced the launch of a digital wallet service that will use NFC.

But NFC, which is now arriving on modern smartphones like the Google/Samsung Nexus S, Samsung’s Galaxy S II, Nokia’s Astound, RIM’s BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 and more soon, is not just for mobile wallets. It can also be used to facilitate simple tasks or data exchanges.

For example, Foursquare experimented with NFC-based check-ins at this week’s Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Rovio is experimenting with NFC in its new Angry Birds Magic game and DoubleTwist is allowing Android users to share MP3’s with each other using NFC.

The only notable service in the U.S. that’s looking at NFC’s use with Twitter, however, is Hashable. Its Android application was updated this week to allow NFC-based contact sharing. Simply tap phones with another Hashable user on Android to exchange contact info via email or “check-in” with that person on Hashable. Although automatic Twitter following is not supported at present, Hashable says the feature is in development now.

Sadly for we early adopters, there are only a handful of NFC-enabled Android applications at present, and fewerstillthat involve any sort of NFC-enabled Twitter functionality. Most are more targeted at the geek/experimental community, not mainstream consumer. In time though, as more NFC phones ship, that situation should change.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.