One of the most underutilized features of Bluetooth is the ability to exchange files without wires, over short distances. Unfortunately it’s not terribly simple to setup, and therefore isn’t used often. Google aims to change that with some new features built into the 2.3.3 Android Gingerbread update that was recently released.
The complexity comes from the pairing process that Bluetooth requires to connect to devices together. This process attempts to not only to ensure that you’re connecting to the device you intend, but also that communication to and from that device is secure.
Enter NFC — Near Field Communication. Google thinks all Android-powered devices will eventually have NFC chips and readers in them, like the Nexus S does today. That’s great not only for being able to “scan” an item (much like we scan bar codes today), but you’ll also be able to uniquely identify your device. Team this up with Bluetooth and users could easily set up a connection between each other simply by pressing a button in an app, or “bumping” their phones together — no passcode needed.
Speaking of bumping, there’s an application for that called Bump, but it’s not using this technology. Bump uses your GPS location, data connection, and various sensors to try and figure out when two devices bump against each other. The idea is simple, but the reality hasn’t been that great in my experience. Even if two people using the app are able get the system to work, data is sent to the Bump servers in the could, then back down to the other device — and it’s limited on the number and type of files that can be sent.
NFC and Bluetooth could solve this issue, and finally let Bluetooth enabled devices do what they always could, but rarely ever did.