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StumbleUpon uses Android’s NFC capabilities to allow easy sharing between users

by Phil Hornshaw

Website-discovery service StumbleUpon plans to use Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to let you share the cool things you discover with other Android device users.

The 2012 Mobile World Congress started up today in Barcelona, Spain, with lots of app developers and hardware makers showing off their latest and greatest developments. It seems that StumbleUpon may be one of them, as TechCrunch reports: the platform just rolled out a big update to its Android app, and it seems that Google might be looking to developers like StumbleUpon to show off the cool features of the recently released version 4.0 of Android.

StumbleUpon is pretty new to the Android tablet game. Originally, the service was designed for web browsers, allowing users to “stumble” around the Internet to find random websites that might interest them (the results are keyed to users’ preferences and different categories they say they’re interested in). In expanding to mobile devices, StumbleUpon brings the same content discovery capabilities to tablets, letting users find new content through the app and including the ability to add brands to their content selections; TechCrunch uses the example of pegging the EPSN brand as being something users enjoy, and then having ESPN content popping up in those users’ sports feeds.

The new update that StumbleUpon pushed to the Android Market today makes use of some of the cooler features of Ice Cream Sandwich to let users expand the way they use StumbleUpon even more. The app has always included social networking features so users can share things they discover with others, but ICS presents a new way of sharing that info with the addition of Android Beam. That’s the near-field communication technology Google rolled out in ICS that lets Android devices communicate with each other directly when they’re placed close together.

NFC technology lets devices broadcast short-range signals that other devices can pick up. In the case of services like Google Wallet, mobile devices can be used to pay for things at brick-and-mortar retailers that have special terminals at their registers, quickly passing credit card information to the store at checkout. With Android Beam and StumbleUpon, users can shoot content they find on their devices to other users directly.

Of course, the big bummer about Android 4.0 ICS and NFC technology is that it’s not too widely available yet. ICS is being rolled out slowly to devices, but Motorola and Samsung have both said updates will be coming to currently-available devices. And only some of the newest Android smartphones include NFC technology, although third-party device makers have created add-ons, like cases, that include NFC chips.

Still, StumbleUpon and other apps like it are pushing the envelope of what Android devices can offer. For those users lucky enough to have access to the latest and greatest Android hardware and software, there are apps out there that are capable of things not yet seen before on the mobile landscape.