At this week’s Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Google head Eric Schmidt showed off a prototype handset with NFC built in. What’s significant is not the handset, it’s the support within the Android 2.3 operating system for NFC-based communications. Google’s making it known that its flagship mobile operating system will be ready for 2011, the Year of NFC.
(Schmidt) said that the version of Android on this phone–presumably version 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread–would support built-in NFC (near-field communication) chips. These chips can send bursts of information across very short distances, which could enable interesting linkages between mobile search, location-based services, and e-commerce.
For instance, assuming you opt in, you could be walking by a location where a Groupon promotion is happening that day and your phone would alert you to the deal. Go into the store, and you could buy the product on site from your phone by running it over some sort of sensor. Schmidt said that Google Checkout would of course be supported, but partners (like credit card companies) would be providing the actual payment fulfillment services.