Google and NXP integrate NFC in Android 2.3

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Last week I posted a short blog post about a collaboration between NXP Semiconductors and Google to provide an open source software stack for NFC. This article looks at this announcement in a little more detail.

In a nutshell what is this announcement about? Well, firstly, the NFC stack will be fully integrated and validated on Gingerbread, the latest version of the Android platform. The other piece of the announcement relates to Google integrating NXP’s NFC controller (PN544) into its newly launched Nexus S phone, co-developed by Google and Samsung, offering users access to NFC based services and applications. Using natural touch gestures, NFC devices can easily pair with accessories, interact on a peer-to-peer level to exchange data, and connect to a huge installed base of reader and tag infrastructures. Nexus S will offer consumers immediate access to read NFC tags.

What does this mean? For developers of applications for Android it means that they are now able to access an open source NFC implementation, giving them a faster time to market and lower implementation and development costs. NXP have agreed to help drive the development of new applications that extend the touch interface of mobile applications beyond the devices screen.

Launched in 2009, the PN544 is, according to NXP, the world’s first truly industry standard NFC controller. It provides a fully compliant platform for handset manufacturers and operators to introduce NFC devices and services. The NXP PN544 chip is fully compliant with all released NFC specifications on the Single Wire Protocol (SWP) connection with the SIM and the Host Controller Interface (HCI). Features include:

  • Small footprint for size optimisation
  • Optimised for low power consumption
  • Optionally working in Battery Off and Battery Low modes
  • MIFARE 1K/4K Reader/writer functionality enabled in host baseband
  • Optionally available with an modular, generic and platform independent software stack
  • Optimised antenna designs for best-in-class RF performance

Eric Chu, Mobile Platforms Program Manager, Google, stated: “With NXP’s contribution, the introduction of NFC in Android provides developers, service providers, and device manufacturers a game-changing opportunity to deliver new services while enabling users to interact with each other and the physical world in ways previously not possible.”

NFC is a market proven technology co-invented by NXP in 2002. In 2004 NXP co-founded the NFC Forum to lead the collaboration with all industry stakeholders and help standardise the technology. NFC technology evolved from a combination of contactless identification (RFID) and interconnection technologies. NXP have been ranked as the number one contactless IC vendor by ABI Research for three years in a row.