Android Gingerbread to get Open NFC support

Inside Secure's Open NFC 4.2 will aim to provide an API that will let third parties implement near-field communication technology for contactless payments across a range of Android 2.3 handsets
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Inside Secure plans to deliver a version of its open-source, near-field communication API tailored to Android 2.3 operating system — code-named Gingerbread — before the end of February.

Android Gingerbread NFC

Android 2.3, code-named Gingerbread, will include NFC support. Credit: Google

Open NFC 4.2 will offer hardware manufacturers, wireless operators and software developers an easy way to implement near-field communication (NFC) functionality across a range of Android 2.3 Gingerbread handsets, the semiconductor and software company said on Monday.

"Open NFC relies on a separate, very thin and easily adaptable hardware-abstraction software layer, which accounts for a very small percentage of the total stack code," said Philippe Martineau, who heads up NFC for Inside Secure. "[This means] that the Open NFC software stack can be easily leveraged for different NFC chip hardware."

Among other uses, NFC technology allows handsets to be used as mobile wallets for small transactions, with the handset being swiped over a contactless reader at the cash till.

According to Martineau, the current Google API embeds code that is dedicated to specific hardware, resulting in costly rewrites to adapt it for different Android devices.

Open NFC has "cost, time-to-market and flexibility advantages for NFC chip vendors, smartphone manufacturers and software developers who would otherwise have to contend with rewriting the hardware-specific elements of the Gingerbread NFC protocol stack", he said.

Inside Secure launched the Open NFC stack in 2010. Known as Inside Contactless until its purchase of the Secure Microcontroller Solutions division of Atmel in May 2010, the company aims to provide Android, Microsoft and Linux-based support for contactless payments on a range of mobile devices.

Open NFC 4.2 will be available as an open-source free download under the terms of the Apache License before the end of February and will be compatible with Android 2.3 as well as unannounced Android 2.4 devices, the company said.

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