Eric Schmidt's currently showing off a Nexus S at the Web 2.0 conference, but more exciting than the handset itself is the new features it's packing, courtesy of Android 2.3: near field communication. Hello, Android wallet.
Schmidt said that Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, will be rolling out "in the next few weeks". Among its new features will be support for interacting with NFC-enhanced devices and RFID tags - basically, Google's trying to beat Apple to the phone-wallet punch. It's been speculated that the next iPhone, or maybe more realistically the one after that, would push NFC applications - systems through which your phone could be used as a sort of digital wireless wallet to pay for thing in s retail stores - hot and heavy. Their recent hiring of NFC expert Benjamin Vigier bears this out.
Schmidt suggested that Nexus S he was using (or, as he referred to it, the "unannounced phone" from an "announced manufacturer") was ready to go for NFC applications, so it seems like the next official Google phone might be leading the wave (on T-Mobile? Before the holiday season?). In other news, I think my Gmail just got hacked today, so I'm feeling a bit wary about folding my credit card into the mix too. Actually, to hell with it, this is the FUTURE. [Engadget and The Next Web]