Android 4.4 could bring Google Wallet mobile payments to any handset with NFC, carrier be damned
The Android 4.4 and Nexus 5 launches should be just hours away, if the latest (and very loud) rumors have finally got it right. While that makes it tempting to just sit back and wait for official word to arrive, we’ve still got some more last-minute leaks to check out, and after word of that Android 4.4 cloud backup business, we’re hearing a bit more about what to expect from the platform.
The big news could be a new way to use NFC, no longer relying on the “secure element” in NFC chips to conduct mobile payments. It’s access to this element that carriers used to block deployment of Google Wallet to more phones that could otherwise be supporting it. Instead, Kit Kat may emulate the component, effectively giving Google a bulletproof way to get Wallet out there even when carriers resist. One sign helping to back up this claim is the discovery that the Nexus 5 should use the same NFC chip as the new Nexus 7 – which you might recall lacks a secure element of its own.
Beyond that, there’s mention of optimizations for low-RAM Androids, support for new sensor types (including some that may point to smartwatch ambitions), improved operation with infrared transceivers, and extended Bluetooth support.