Holiday Gingerbread—Google Might Launch Android 2.3 on December 6th

Google has already announced that it plans to release Android 2.3 before the end of this year and speculation is rampant that Andy Rubin’s presentation on December 6th at the D: Dive Into Mobile event will be the day. Rubin is Google’s VP of Engineering and his spot on stage will be the perfect time for the company to show the world how near field communication (NFC) is supported in Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’.

If you remember, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been walking around with a Nexus S and hinted that Gingerbread would see the light of day in a few weeks. Guess what? December 6th is a few weeks from when he said that. Anyone taking bets on how long it takes Samsung to update its Galaxy S series to Gingerbread? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Anyway, the Gingerbread hints from Google just keep getting louder. Between the tweeted pictures of gingerbread cookies to the giant gingerbread man on Google’s lawn, you just know they’re teasing us at this point. Android 2.3 is bringing a lot of new features to the platform and will be the intermediate OS update until Android 3.0 ‘Honeycomb’ comes out in early 2011 with tablet support as a main consideration instead of an afterthought.

NFC support for mobile payment options will probably be the biggest new feature in Gingerbread. Apple’s iPhone 5 is expected to support the technology when it comes out next year and Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry smartphones will probably get the technology next year as well. NFC promises a land without wallets, where smartphones function as wireless credit and debit cards. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile already teaming up under a joint venture called ‘Isis’ to support the technology and mobile payment processing. Don’t worry, Discover is on board too and will provide the transaction processing.

With the Nexus S confirmed to have an NFC chipset inside and Gingerbread literally right around the corner, expect manufacturers to jump on board the NFC bandwagon. Then all we’ll need are retailers that support NFC. That will probably take some more time. Hopefully with so many big names on board the Isis project, it won’t take much to convince some of the bigger chains to start supporting the technology. Then the smaller ones will start to follow to keep up. Don’t expect the process to happen overnight but the technology has already started to catch on in Asia and Europe.

Ready for NFC to start making waves? Just waiting for Gingerbread to appear on your favorite tablet model? Let me know.

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