Feeds

Why is Google's new Nexus S like no other smartphone?

First proper outing for NFC pay/scan/passcard tech

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google and Samsung have jointly announced the Nexus S, but the new flagship Android handset has more wireless than previously seen with Near Field Communications built in.

Google isn't trying to change the distribution model this time; the Nexus S will be sold in Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy stores, and will be available in the UK and US before Christmas. But it will also be the first mainstream phone packing NFC - no matter what Nokia says.

The Nexus S features a slightly curved screen – to better fit in the hand and against the face – which will either be annoying or a revelation: we won't know until we see it. It also has the latest Hummingbird 1GHz processor, and suitably fast graphics, but it's the inclusion of Near Field Communications that is most interesting. NFC has been a feature of a few Nokia handsets, and one or two from Samsung, but those have been limited to technical trials and demonstrations, and none has had an open API allowing developers to really play with the technology.

NFC enables short-range communication for reading radio tags on posters and the like, as well as enabling proximity payment systems such as London's Oyster card system and credit-card-based technologies including Visa's PayWave and Mastercard PayPass. NFC, or N-Mark as the standard is properly known, includes both an induction-powered tag and a tag-reader, and so it can operate as either. The use of induction means the tag can be read when the phone's battery is dead, and limits the range hugely, but it is the other part of the NFC architecture that remains obscure in the Nexus S.

Payment systems need a secure vault on the device, and there's been much debate over who should, and would, hold the keys to that vault. Google would be the obvious key-holder in this case, though we don't know if it is this time around. The NFC chip in the Nexus S is a P544 from NXP, which supports the Single Wire Protocol - enabling the network operator to hold a secure vault on the SIM chip. That would seem to present an opportunity to the network operators, assuming the SWP is enabled in the Nexus S (we're still checking with Samsung), though it is possible Google has another secure vault on the device, or is planning to pursue a tokenised approach (authenticated in the cloud - such as that deployed by Bling Nation), which would render the secure vault redundant.

Either way, the open API and active Android development community should see NFC finally getting some fun applications showing off what the technology is capable of, and something cool for the early adopters to show off just before Christmas. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe
I'll have a handset delivered. Judge us after you try us...
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.