Google have today revealed details of the new features to be included in the 4.4 (KitKat) release of the Android operating System. The company has announced that the update will bring system-wide Host Card Emulation functionality to Android devices, without the need for a hardware secure element.

In previous versions of (stock) Android, card emulation was only possible through the use of an embedded secure element chip, and access to this functionality had only been made available to Google's own Wallet application. The release of Android 4.4 will allow any developer to create an application that can emulate a physical NFC card using the already-established ISO/IEC 7816 standard. This could potentially result in a major increase in the number of organisations that provide phone-based building access, identification, payments, and ticketing.

Google have yet to confirm whether Android 4.4 will also bring support for SIM-based secure elements, but it would seem that such solutions might no longer be necessary for consumer applications.

Android 4.4 will ship with the company's latest flagship phone, the Nexus 5. Google have taken advantage of the new sans secure element emulation functionality by opting for the BCM20793M NFC controller in the phone, which lacks an embedded secure element. Google have stated that KitKat's card emulation functionality should function with a vast majority of devices that feature an NFC controller.

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4 Responses so far.

  1. Looks like this is not happening :(

  2. Alun James says:

    "Launching in December 2014, on compatible handsets."

  3. Alun James says:

    "Launching in December 2014, on compatible handsets." :-(

  4. jc says:

    now 2014

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