Android Beam, the NFC sharing feature introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich, may disappear with the next major system update. The function is in any case made less present in some parts of the source code.
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The NFC is talking a lot about it for contactless payment – especially with the arrival of Google Pay in France – but it is also used for many other functions. Examples include fast pairing for Bluetooth devices or the connection between two smartphones to exchange data with Android Beam. This latter function, however, seems about to disappear.
The XDA site has noticed changes in Android's AOSP source code with the obsolete switch of Android Beam APIs. It seems that in a next major update (possibly Android Q), builders and developers will no longer be able to use Android Beam.
Android Beam, what is it?
As a reminder, Android Beam is a simple sharing system by NFC. It makes it easy to share information between two smartphones, just by pasting them to each other.
Several applications currently integrate these APIs, including those of Google. This allows you to share photos, contacts, web addresses, files, music, etc.
Integrated with Android with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, this feature has not received a significant update since Android 5.1 Lollipop. Moreover, it is clearly not put forward and few Android users know it.
An uncertain future
APIs are deprecated and hidden behind a "flag" (android.sofware.nfc.beam) to activate. Note that this flag should not be enabled by default on future devices, but this will allow current users to not lose this feature.
It remains to be seen if Google will offer an alternative to facilitate exchanges between two smartphones.
Read on FrAndroid: How to exchange files easily between friends with the NFC? – Tutorial for beginners