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Possible NFC iPhone support could mean more apps for Android

by Phil Hornshaw

There’s a rumor going around today that the next version of Apple’s (AAPL) iOS operating system will feature Near Field Communication, a technology that allows smarphones to interact with other systems at close range -- mostly to make payments, like when you’re checking-out in a store.

You might have heard already that Android 2.3 Gingerbread supports NFC. The service has the potential to make a serious impact on the way transactions are handled at retailers and the way we receive information. Imagine stepping up to a movie poster for a film you want to see, and having your phone identify the film from a chip in the display; then allowing you to purchase your tickets as you enter the theater.

Google (GOOG) is already pushing the service forward with the next rollout of Android. Certainly the company will be making big strides to support the service, but now Apple is doing the same thing -- which could mean that whatever support Android developers were formerly planning to throw behind NFC could get a whole lot bigger.

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Many mobile developers don’t make apps for just iOS or Android, but rather both of them. With Apple adding NFC to iOS 4.3, Android users are likely to see a whole lot more cool apps showing up on the platform, because there’s now twice as much chance of making money from them as there was before. And with the growth being seen in similar spheres, like local group buying and location-based services, app developers will almost certainly see big potential in linking those capabilities with NFC technology.

So expect lots of very cool NFC-capable Android apps on their way once Apple’s new operating system rolls out and developers can simply adjust their apps to work on both platforms. That’s great news for consumers: the amount of people working on, and innovating within, this new technology could be on its way to doubling.