Android has an easy method of local file and info sharing, and that’s Android Beam. Using NFC, you can transfer small bits of info like links and contacts to other NFC-enabled phones. Plus, you can send photos and other large media via a connection started by NFC. Most Android phones these days have NFC, but the technology hasn’t really caught on outside of the Android world. Worse, it’s not very popular among those who do have it.
Strangely, Apple hasn’t adopted NFC for themselves. I always thought that as soon as Apple adopts NFC, use and adoption will skyrocket. However, Apple is focusing on wireless data transfer, like their new AirDrop, which works without any physical contact. While Google is still putting work into NFC technology, the acquisition of Bump may be their attempt to plan for the future: a future without NFC.
Yes, NFC has a chance of dying out. Not many use it, and everyone is creating different ways to share data. Even Motorola, an Android manufacturer, created DroidZap to wirelessly share photos with those around you. It makes me worry for NFC, which is not really gaining any traction.
On the other hand, a few uses of NFC are irreplaceable. For example, one of my favorite uses of NFC is pairing a device to a speaker. Instead of going through the cumbersome steps of turning on Bluetooth and hoping it automatically connects (Bluetooth is finicky at times), just a tap will do it. The same goes for file transfers, when emailing takes far too many steps and a simple tap will send a photo.
Plus, the safety of a precise tap over bumping or having an open communication standard like AirDrop is undeniable. A properly aimed NFC tap is hard to master, so it’d be very difficult to do so without the other person noticing. It’s a brilliant technology, and I can’t imagine why it isn’t being used more.
Google’s acquisition of Bump could merely be a backup plan, for integration and NFC-free way of using Android Beam on smartphones. Bump works by bumping two smartphones together, which simply uploads the data to the cloud and allows it to be downloaded on the second device. Maybe Google will get it to be cross platform too, if it’s feeling generous enough. Luckily, Bump will continue working until then. Would you give it a shot?