Near field communications technology is evolving to the point where it is being used in more and more consumer electronics devices like the forthcoming Android Beam-enabled Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The futuristic sounding feature is simply a microchip that senses when it is near another NFC chip, and that enables both sensors to send messages to each other, usually in a mobile payment system. Think of it kind of like Bluetooth but with lower power and less risk. The NFC technology has the added benefit of working even if one of the two devices on either end is powered off.
The Google Wallet app takes advantage of the NFC chip in any device that has it, and it is used just as described above. It allows for tap-to-pay so you can use your phone as your wallet. The Android Beam, however, is a new feature of the soon to be released Android 4.0 update. The Galaxy Nexus will be the first phone to have the 4.0 update, with other Android phones getting the update in 2012. Once older devices get the update, they can use the Beam if they are NFC-enabled. Android Beam allows for wireless transfer of music, movies, files and whatever data the two devices want to share. Just hold the two Android phones close together, and send data with the NFC chip. Start the slideshow to see the top five NFC phones out there. Not all are Android devices, so they won't be able to use the Beam.
Tell us in the comments if you are stoked about NFC or you still consider it a security risk.
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